“Picture” is the new “World”

courtesy of justthatproductions.com

Pictures are everywhere these days. No one sees anything without first looking at it through a screen.

I’ll bet that if you look out on the street at this very moment, more than half of the people (probably closer to 90%) walking by are looking at their little screens.

That is their world. It is their perception of the world.

Is it that through globalization humanity’s concept of our planet and its vastness, its billions of people all thrusting and grabbing and moving, is just too much for our little brains to absorb? That we must, therefore, contain it, shrink it, peer at it through a manageably-sized window?

Or is it simply screen addiction?

When I was a child, Polaroid cameras were all the rage and people snapped pictures of everything, marvelling at the instantaneousness of it all. But they were also expensive and this obsession didn’t last long.

For the most part, 35 mm cameras were the norm. And disk cameras – does anyone remember those? I think my first camera was a disk camera.

Anyway, processing film was by no means instantaneous, nor was it particularly cheap and, as such, the average person did not take 20 pictures of the same scene – unless, of course, they were photographers, which is an entirely different matter.

They also didn’t take pictures of every single moment of life, capturing it forever as if memories couldn’t hold it.

Today, in the digital age, pictures don’t need to be processed and are right there, free, the moment you take them. Now it’s as though we all collectively fear mass amnesia and have to capture every second with a click. Because we can.

On the plus side, this has allowed the average person to take some truly remarkable pictures and even to capture special memories in a beautiful and frameable way. Anyone can play at being a photographer.

But on the downside, our concept of our wide world has faded, or maybe morphed, and now exists almost entirely through the small rectangular screen in each of our hands.

We no longer can go for a walk in the woods and simply enjoy our beautiful planet; instead we have to take pictures of it, at every angle, as if we were trying to capture it or tame it or own a little piece of it.

I’m as guilty of this as the next person.

I have thousands of pictures. Pictures of my son, of the trees, the sky, the moon, flowers. And in the moment, while I took each of them, I’m sure I was appreciating them and thinking of their beauty, of how special the subject or occasion was.

But can I say I was really connecting with my subject?

Was I really in the moment, living and breathing it?

I don’t think I was. I think the screen sets us apart a bit, distances us from this wonderful thing we are trying to keep forever. Perhaps it is this distance which fuels the fear of forgetting the moment, driving us to keep on snapping those picutres.

Sometimes it is better to leave the camera behind and immerse oneself in the experience. To BE rather than to capture.

Why do you need a picture of that? Can’t you remember it? And if you take a picture, will you experience the moment through your other senses, or will they fade away? Will you hear the sounds, smell the scents, or will you be so engrossed in fitting the scene perfectly into that rectangular screen, that everything else fades? That you fade, because you are no longer a participant?

I think it’s time that we try life without so many pictures.

Let’s leave our cameras behind, fight the urge to capture everything, and go out into the world, engage all our senses and be in the moment, without pictures.

Let’s go out and find the World again.

Go on, try it. I dare you. I’ll do it too.

I guarantee you will not forget what you see.

Related:

An Opaque Perspective on the 21st Century, or, Together in the Clouds (paxlupo.com)

Today’s daily prompt directed us to choose the 4th and 14th words from another blog to fill in the blanks in the following phrase, “ ______ is the new ______”. Technically, we were supposed to choose our favourite blog, but that’s a hard one. I don’t think I can pick a favourite. So, I just worked my way down the list on the right side of my site until I found a phrase that inspired me.

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116 thoughts on ““Picture” is the new “World”

  1. So . . . since I came upon photography during the 35mm film SLR and Polaroid era, I lament the fact that images can now be so cheapened by their ubiquitousness. Even as I use my iPhone for photos. But I’ve long made the distinction between the “memory” shot—one I’d make just for the reminder of the place—and the arty shot(s) I’d make with effort, with a “real” camera. The lines are so blurry now. It’s so crazy to be in a remote place of absolute stunning natural beauty and see people with smartphones going nuts like it’s just another everyday experience. I think that’s the real danger of device addiction—nothing is ever special again.

  2. I don’t take photos any more, nor record the sounds when I find them fascinating like I used to when I was a film director, then a video director with sound engineers supporting my creative endeavours. You’re completely in tune with the environment as a participant, and no technology can extract it. Everything else are production sequences, as I continue to make video projects and music compositions in harmony with the Symphony of the Universe which accompanies the Theatre of Life

  3. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed and your post us right on. I always resist my family’s insistence that I record or take pictures of this or that because what I really want is to enjoy whatever is being presented to my senses. Being and seeing are about all that is authentically left to us in this manufactured world.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I think you’re right; it’s hard to resist the urge, especially when those around us are encouraging us in the opposite direction. But you have the right idea!

  4. Back when we dropped off film to be developed, we’d anticipate picking up the photos and placing the best of the lot in albums to share with friends, relatives….or just ourselves on a night of nostalgic retrospection.
    The arrival of digital photography changed and.cheapened the whole experience! We know we can re-take (or app away) the imperfections to create “perfect” memories. I daresay this is why most pics never leave our devices…subconsciously we know they bear little resemblance to reality!

    • Oh what a good point! And you’re right, the fun of the anticipation is gone now, as is the ability to hold the pictures in our hands, sift through them, and organize them with meaning. Plus, with all the millions we now save, we never really go back and visit them the way you would a real album.
      Thanks for commenting!

  5. i’m not agree with your point of view, sorry about that. Think about your parents, i do in this, how many photo books do they have. At my mothers place, my father past away, i can’t count them. People don’t change only the things that we want to have to capture a certain moment. And people have a lot of moments that they want to hold on they want to keep in there memories. And what is easier, with a digital cam, to make a photo of that moment. Think about your child how many photo’s do you make of him or her. It’s not only for yourself that you make this photo’s, yes in the beginning it is, but also for them. And how about, hello mom and dad where back from our holiday, look how it was there where we went. I agree that the digital cam is cheaper, delete what you don’t need, then before with the analoge cam. But people still want to get that one moment and if it takes thousands of photo’s to get that one moment it doesn’t matter. I’m not talking about proffesionals in this but just the people who want to keep memories close by.

    • Thank you for sharing your views. I think it’s great to have both perspectives reflected.
      I definitely like capturing the special moments and the memories as well , but find that I loose myself and separate myself from those moments by always taking pictures instead of getting involved. But I definitely understand your point about how important and enjoyable it is to take those pictures. That’s part of why I take so many!

  6. First off I would like too saay excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d
    like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious
    to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Many thanks!

    • I think the trick is NOT to think. If I don’t have an idea of what I’d like to write but I know I’d like to write at that moment, I simply sit down and start typing. I don’t put any pressure on myself, I think I don’t have to post whatever it is I am writing, I just sit down and go. Better than that, though, is waiting until some point in the day when a line or a thought comes to me. Once that happens, I can usually sit down and start writing. If you’re sitting down for 10 minutes or longer and nothing is coming to you, I’d suggest getting up and moving around, doing something else. If you go out, bring a notepad with you. I usually find that if I think about something else, ideas start to come to me. Good luck!

  7. I love this post! This is so extremely important! It seems so difficult to just put down the technology and just soak it all in. But this is so important to do more than just occasionally! Thanks for the time and consideration that went into this post 🙂

  8. Loved this article. Especially on a recent trip with a friend who simply could not stop taking pictures. It got to be annoying, even though I myself love to take pictures. It seems that the times that were supposed to be treasured in the moment……well out came the Ipad or the camera. Thankfully we had a great talk about it and all is okay. Yet, I learned that taking pictures of the moments, without actually being in the moment, but behind the camera can often defeat the purpose for which the moment was originally intended. Still learning.

    • Exactly! Thank you for dropping by and sharing your own experience. It perfectly captures the difference between the joy of capturing a moment and holding yourself outside that moment.

  9. I take pictures to force myself to interact with the world; some days, to just step out the door. Otherwise my default form of escapism is to read or play video games. I’d just stay inside all day or be so indecisive of what I want to do, that I just don’t go out.

    I’ve been trying to take picture of people while in conversation which has been an educational challenge. This allows me to hide some of my anxiousness behind a screen while still interacting with living people.

    I also like to document things. I don’t trust my memories to be accurate enough.

    Thanks for the post.

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