More Pixels than People
In the digital age that we live in, pointing a camera at our loved ones has replaced staring into their eyes. We are more focused on trying to get the light right than we are on breathing in the beautiful sunset. Who cares if we didn’t actually listen to the vows our friends made to each other as long as we have their perfect wedding shot tucked away in our camera?
Our obsession with creating a moment out of everything is endangering our ability to enjoy the million moments that pass us by in a day.
People all over the globe today upload more than one billion images in a day. That equals half the population of our country. This constant urge that we have, to capture a moment has completely changed the way we are experiencing life.
In 2000, when photography was just gaining momentum, a record was set when Kodak announced that the world has managed to capture 80 billion photos. Look at where we are now.
Photographing a moment was seen as a means to be able to remember something long after it had happened. It made sense. People photographed their siblings on the graduation day or colleagues on their promotion parties or their daughters on their wedding days. It was a means to spark the memories in your brain.
People would inhale the experience they were having—beautiful oceans, happy gatherings, peaceful abodes. My uncle took a photograph of one of the most renowned poets in the country in the after party of his concert. One day when we were talking about it, I found out that this happened when there were video cameras available. I asked my uncle, why didn’t you record his poetry?
He laughed. “You kids”, he said while slightly shaking his head, “you have just absolutely forgotten how to enjoy a moment.” I kind of frowned at that but then he asked me, “what do you want to know that you can’t ask me and would have from the video?” I shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Some details or stuff”, without really knowing what the answer was.
My uncle got up and started narrating his memories of the day. He began by reciting a couple of poems that the poet had recited but what blew my mind was that my uncle had such vivid memory of what colours he wore, how the lighting were, what was being served as snacks and stuff like that. That’s when it hit me.
We do not experience moments anymore.
I know people who take photos of their parking spaces and food items they want to buy later. Our generation, which has smartphone cameras at their disposal 24×7, uses the photos as memory aids. We do not capture something to spark our memory anymore. We capture it as a memory.
Here is how it usually goes. We walk into a place, witness something beautiful, and our first response is to get it on our camera. Once we do that, the process ends there. We think now that we have a photo of it, we do not need to observe it further. By doing this, we are eliminating the emotional and elaborative experiences that we as humans need to remember those moments. We are outsourcing our experiences and memory to a camera.
I am not saying that we should stop taking pictures of everything altogether. (Even if I wanted to, I know how hard that would be for half the people in the world). However, the way our experiences are being influenced by this constant shuttering of our cameras needs to be changed. As humans, we have been given the gift of feeling things. Are we just going to throw that away because we can be convenient?
We shouldn’t. I am going to begin by challenging myself, and my friends (who could really use this kind of a thing) to a Photo-Free day. No photos for 24 hours. Absolutely none—not of your lunch, or the sunrise you see, or your pet. No photo messages, no snapchat. Nothing. It might not do much but it’s a start, and then again, it might just.