Thursday, February 19, 2015

The ubiquitous photograph

Lindsey posted about pictures and how everyone feels compelled to snap pictures of events, weather phenomenon, cocktails, plays, sporting events, etc., etc. OK that's my paraphrase, but she writes: 

"From traveling, going to sporting events or enjoying the weather— everything has to be documented.

How much worse will this get? Will there ever be a point where posting everything you do will get old and stop?" 

The answer to her embittered rhetorical questions, I believe, is unequivocally no. The pictures won't stop. If anything, they will just become more abundant as technology allows us to take more photos, store them, swipe and cherish our digital memories forever. 

Yes, the pictures can get annoying, but they're worth it. Think about it. We've never had the ability to document life in such vivid real time. Have you seen the video of the Taiwan plane crash? It's absolutely stunning in a  holy s***, mortality-brushing way. 

The video was taken from a dash cam, which are put on cars with increasing frequency because insurance companies use the video in court. However, these cameras often capture really interesting things. Think crazy Russian dash cam videos.  

Before the camera phone, audio-visual reporting happened ex-post facto, often too late to capture the real-life drama of the event. With the ubiquity of the iPhone camera and small cameras in general (like the dash cam), there isn't this delay.

As for the social reasons, are people taking pics and video for social instead of moral reasons? Probably. But social interaction motivates a lot of human activity. Posting pictures also makes people happy, and as moral philosopher John Stuart Mill would argue, that's really the best we can do. 

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