Remember the ad that Kodak ran, “the moments of our lives”? Kodak left for a while, but then turned around, came back, and took another picture of itself, this time digitalized. And so we all became part of the world of personal photographers who chronical our “moments” for posterity, in perpetuity, forever, in “The Cloud”, wherever that really is. We point and click, and download and upload. There is no end to what we can take a picture of from a piece of clothing we want our friend to comment on “should I buy it?” to a street sign that captures something funny, to our children, grandchildren, or the license plate of the person who took our parking space, intentionally.
There are the posed pictures, the imposed pictures “Smile! Dammit!” as well as the unintentional pictures of our thumbs and the floor. I have quite a few of those which I look at for any artistic merit before I put them in the little trash pail icon on my phone. In my imagination, I envision a cartoon which has the Statue of Liberty surrounded by a mass of people whose faces we cannot see because instead they have a cell phone “photoshopped” where their faces would be. We are our iPhones/cameras. We see through a lens,not just metaphorically, but through the viewfinders of our phones.
The last significant scenic vacation that my FHB and I travelled was to Norway and Denmark. The first several days of travel, I chronicled the trip through video and iPhone. In order to actually get a sense of what I was seeing, I had to remember it via the video and still pictures. Somehow that seemed wrong. I felt that I didn’t actually “see” anything. I didn’t feel the expanse of the mountains or glaciers. I didn’t get the magnitude of the beauty of Bergen and the fjords because I was not memorializing the pictures in my mind, but rather on my phone.
Technology is amazing and it has so many tools that we benefit by having access to. Yet it does not replace our interactions with nature or people, up close and personal, and especially face to face. I’ve put down the camera at times when I want to take a picture in my mind, and be part of the moment, in the moment. A picture may be worth a thousand words, and yet some of those words are worth hearing as the person looks at you, faces you, and sees your response to something they say. Something clicks inside us and we don’t need a button to see it.