The other day I began thinking about how the documentation of our lives has drastically changed, even in the last couple of decades. When I was young, there seemed to be two main options for cameras: 35mm and Polaroids. Polaroids seemed advanced because you collected your photos after only a few seconds of development, but for the most part, people used standard or disposable 35mm film developed at a later date.
While I think the delayed gratification of that process could lead to an entirely separate conversation, my focus for this post is how we currently capture, store and review our visual histories. In the future, if and when our children or our children’s children want to know more about our lives (another topic I’d like to discuss separately – the importance or unimportance of the past). These future generations will not be turning the fragile pages of photo albums or sorting through boxes of black and whites; they’ll be reviewing our online accounts and going through our iPhoto libraries (if they are even interested in our visual histories). I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about why we even take pictures; obviously we want to document life events and other occurrences, but to what end? Do we do so with the notion that someday we’ll review these snapshots and relive fond memories? Now that the digital landscape has so drastically changed, another huge motivator is sharing our lives with other people online.
These days, most of the mass-produced cameras are digital. You snap your photo (with a variety of optimization features at your disposal) and can immediately review it on screen. If pleased, you can move on. If not, you can delete it and snap a photo more to your liking. It seems like this particular technological advancement has allowed us to, in a sense, shape our realities (or our future perception of these documented realities) by creating the ideal visual depiction of it. Then once we upload our photos, we have the capability to further manipulate them. Cell phone camera technology has also advanced, allowing us to easily take, upload and send photos from virtually anywhere. These multi-use devices and ever-increasing documentation of our lives leads me to a question or topic I’ve addressed before: are we spending so much time documenting and “sharing” our lives (online) that we aren’t living them to the fullest? Or is one of the huge perks of the internet that we can simultaneously live experiences and share them with the world?