Most photographers agree that good photography is mostly about noticing and seeing. I think that’s possible with my smartphone, but it tends to look more like noticing and seeing with an eye toward sharing, which is inherently quicker and less focused on composition, lighting and other details. Plus, I’m less likely to even take the photo if I don’t think it’s going to look good on Instagram and inspire a measure of awe in my handful of followers (who I suspect sometimes “like” my posts just to be polite).
I have a theory that the world is growing harder around the edges, colder, less caring because we don’t notice as much of what’s going on around us. We’re too caught up in our respective electronic worlds to see how our actions might impact others. Everywhere I look… having lunch, driving to the pharmacy, walking in the woods (!), I see people focused, not on the people, road or experience going on around them, but on the world inside that little rectangle of chips and wires we all seem to have indelibly attached to the palm of our hands.
Smartphone tech has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and the quality of our photos probably FAR surpasses the quality we got from our old point & shoots. Still, I think we’re all constantly editing our experience of life to determine what’s share-worthy and what’s not, which is to say we’re less likely to notice the things that don’t measure up. Sometimes, too, I fear we share without giving a lot of thought to how our personal wow-moments might be taken by others. I’m reminded of the vet that went viral a few years ago, when she posted an image of herself, proudly holding up an arrow-impaled cat, with the caption, “the only good feral cat is a dead one.” People went crazy, calling for criminal charges, loss of her job, loss of her license. In fact, she did lose her job and, ultimately, had her license suspended for a period of time. I adore my cats and was as horrified as anybody by her actions, but I can’t help thinking she never would have gotten into the mess in the first place if she hadn’t shared that darn picture.
Maybe social media can serve to keep us accountable? It’d be nice, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, given some of the more bumbling posts that have made news in the last year and a half. Everyone’s moral compass isn’t the same – one person’s idea of a reasonable thing to tweet may not always be the same as everyone else’s and I have to wonder how any of us can be sure that one innocent share might not one day be the one that turns into a social crucifixion?
At some point, I think we have to disconnect a little from our tech to truly reconnect with each other. I think it’s the only way we can start to see when other people are hurting or in trouble. It’s the only way we can begin to care enough to step in and help. It’s the only way we can really begin to appreciate the extraordinary world we live in and truly/completely LIVE in it every day.