Living Life through an LCD Screen

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Our niece Deepthi, and her fiancée, Dean exchanged their marriage vows at the picturesque Lake House Inn, Philadelphia, United States on 04 June 2016.  The ceremony was presided over by Dr Alan David Fox, Professor of Asian and Comparative Philosophy and Religion in the Philosophy Department at the University of Delaware.  Dr. Fox had mentored both Deepthi and Dean while at the university.

At the commencement of the ceremony, Dr. Fox requested all invitees to be seated and not to indulge in any photography.  He said that the official photographer present would post the photographs on the internet for everyone to see.  He also requested all the attendees to pay attention to the readings and the vows being exchanged and also participate in an important event in the life of the bride and the groom.  He opined that such a solemn occasion should never be viewed through the LCD screens or the viewfinder of one’s recording device.  A very profound thought.

Is there really a need to record these solemn events in one’s life?

Surely it is a once-in-a-lifetime event and it costs dearly with no upper limit.  During any wedding, a great portion of the money would be spent on things that will be gone forever the day after the wedding.  Only a few things remain – the rings, the dress, the photos and the memories.   In this digital age, the pictures will stay until eternity, perhaps stored away in a virtual cloud, unlike our marriage album – faded, distorted and moth eaten –   but the memories will fade.

Turning the pages of ones parent’s or grandparent’s wedding album is a remarkable experience. The youthful looks  of the familiar haggard persona, a sort of reverse metamorphosis; the fashions, customs, traditions and rituals of a bygone era; the  images of many close and not so close relatives, many of them no longer amongst the living.  All of this results in a plethora of emotions flooding the sensitive mind.  It is an enthralling experience to cherish.  So, why on earth should this privilege be denied to the future generations?

Our son Nikhil, during his cultural exchange programme to France was very enthusiastic to visit the Louvre Museum, mainly to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  On reaching near the famous painting, he was somewhat disappointed as he felt that the original of the much revered painting now before him in ‘flesh and blood’, looked much like a fake duplicate of the many grand prints and photographs of the same painting that he had seen.  Moreover, it was one of the smallest in the room.  He was more bothered by some over-enthusiastic tourists, many trying to photograph or ‘selfie’ the painting.  They were least bothered about others around and proved to be a real nuisance by getting in the way and sticking cameras and selfie sticks in the face of others.  These ‘enthusiasts’ were merely interested in telling the world that they were there and had the least concern for others around or for the masterpieces which they had purportedly come to see!

These days it costs a mini fortune to physically witness any major sporting event.  To make it a profitable experience,  one must simply soak in the atmosphere of the sporting arena, get emotionally involved in the sporting action and partake of every thrilling moment of the sport.    With a cell phone in hand, it appears that everyone has taken on the role of a photographer, resulting in their watching the entertaining action through LCD monitors.  They would have done well to sit in the comfort of their homes and watch the same action, inclusive of slow motion replays, on their large LCD television.  Then why make all the effort to go to a stadium to watch such a sporting event?  Here again the selfie sticks pose a major problem and many sporting arenas in North America have rightfully banned them.  These self-styled photographers should realise that all the important moments of the game have been recorded by many professional photographers with their high-resolution cameras and would be available on the websites of the newspapers and the sports organisation.  Then why miss such an opportunity?  Why not become part of the celebration and enjoy every moment of it?

Many parents see their children growing up through the camera lens.  For them, many special events in their life slip by as they have seen them only through a lens.   They do not participate with the children while on an outing or at an adventure event or at an amusement park.  They fail to see the emotions and expressions on the faces of their children.  They forget the prime importance of living the experience and capturing the image in one’s mind rather than in a memory stick. They forget to participate wholeheartedly, live the moment with the children and absorb the experience through every pore.  Holding a costly camera or cell phone, one is sure to be scared of action and water.  It would be better to take a couple of quick snapshots, then pack the camera and celebrate the occasion with one’s family.  Family photos are surely a trigger for memories, but for posterity – when you are old – your eyesight will rarely be good enough for you to appreciate them. But the memory of a cherished moment, etched in one’s mind is joy forever!

I always pity those dads who video/photograph their kid’s birthday parties.  They are busy adjusting camera angles and lights and hence do not participate in the celebrations.  It would be prudent to call for a professional photographer to cover such events or one can request a friend to do it.  Another option is to mount the camera on a tripod and get some shots with a wireless remote.

While visiting any place of interest, spend time fruitfully to learn about it.  Listen attentively to the tourist guide if present or read through the information boards posted there.  Help your children to understand what they are seeing and a few lines of explanation from the parents would enhance the kid’s learning.   In case you are very much interested in photographing the place, reserve it for a subsequent trip.


A photograph of any object would record many a details which one would have missed while seeing it live.  One may come across interesting features that the naked eye would have otherwise missed.  Sophie and Joe would bear me out.

Unlike the digital cameras of today, film photography of the good old days was a pretty costly affair and one did not see the results until the all the 36 shots were taken.  Many a time this would take over six months.  In those days, it was easier to maintain the required balance between looking through a viewfinder and experiencing life.  Today one can easily get over 200 shots in one day with hardly any effort and at no cost.

Remember that it is vitally important to maintain a right balance between viewing life through an LCD screen and experiencing it through all the senses.

 

Selfie Menace and Images on Social Media

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The youth of today seems mesmerised by the ‘selfie’ trend.  They take selfies anywhere and everywhere, without paying heed to the sentimentality and solemnity associated with the occasion.  They do not even spare funerals.  Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt ‘selfie’ at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela went viral on the social media.  This image showed Thorning-Schmidt flanked by a smiling Barack Obama on one side and David Cameron squeezing in on the other.  All of them appeared to be ‘having fun’ when everyone was paying their respects to the departed soul of a world leader.  The reactions it would have created is well imaginable.


Here is a lesson for every netizen.  The moment an image is posted, it would travel at the light of speed all over the globe.  Any ‘awkward’ image provides an opportunity for the netizens to post their comments and most of these comments are going to be unpalatable.  When you post an image on the social media or the Internet, you are responsible and accountable for it.  It is for you to ensure that you do not bring in shame or touch the sensibilities of others with the image.  You
need to ensure that you do not hurt anyone’s career or personal life in any way.  Make sure that you have the permission to post someone’s photograph on the social media.  Copying and pasting someone else’s photo without prior permission, even with due credits, is a crime and violation of copyright. 

In today’s world, many legal cases have emerged due to such unauthorised posting of images.  Many have been charged as stalkers/ pedophiles.  This makes it all the more important to avoid taking pictures of children without permission of their parents, even at public events or social gatherings.  Some schools have banned photography in all their school functions, obviously to avoid misuse by unscrupulous elements.  Before tagging anyone on a photograph, it is your responsibility to obtain necessary permission from the person.  Many people today feel offended by such acts.

 

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Posting the images of your children need special attention.  Over exposure of your children on the social media is not recommended.  Ensure that the images are not likely to be misused by anyone.  Similarly, posting images with high resolution may also invite trouble.  It would be prudent on your part to distort or add ‘noise’ to the image before posting it.  You can use any photo-editor or use many free online photo-editing site for it.

Avoid posting disturbing images of sick people, accident victims, etc.  This would leave a bad taste in the viewer’s mind.  Selecting necessary security settings to ensure that the persons intended are only seeing the image posted is always a good idea.  In case you are comfortable with the subject of your image, you can broadcast it to the whole world. 

One got to be extra-careful while posting of images during distress or calamities.  Some of your images may spread a feeling that you are not sensitive to the situation.  Similarly, images of funerals, cremation, obituaries, etc must be minimised.  You should pay special attention to the photos you post for such melancholic occasions and remove them immediately thereafter.   

Before uploading, posting or sharing a photograph, always pause and think what potential damage your act can cause.  Consider as to how your friend’s parents, siblings or teachers would react to the photo.  There have been many instances of people losing their jobs due to such inadvertent postings by their friends.  Many companies, prior to hiring, do peruse through the prospective employee’s social media sites to look for such aberrations.  Photos of many politicians in their youth have come haunting them later and have often caused considerable embarrassment. 

Many netizens tend to be bold on the Internet and on social networks and do things they might otherwise not do.  Many create fake profiles and some use tagging to attract the unsuspecting netizens on to their web page or website.  Obviously, these sites are real suspect in their content.

Geo-tagging of photos is a way of letting friends and families know where you are.  At the same time you are also at risk from burglars and stalkers.   Cyber criminals on the prowl can easily find out about your routine and also know when you are away from your home.  If you are out of station and your photo posted with a location far away will be boon for the burglars as they can very well predict your likely time of return.

If you post a photo you did not shoot, you could be violating someone’s copyright.  They reserve the right to take you to court and also sue you for damages.  The Facebook Terms of Service state, “You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law. We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies. If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.” 

If you post pictures from a concert, fair, flash mob or any public gathering, you can post those photos without specific permission of the people you captured on camera.  There is an expectation of privacy in places like a public washroom, swimming pool, courtroom or hospital.  In many schools, photography during the public functions are strictly forbidden.  In such places, obviously, you cannot shoot and will have to depend on the official photographer if any. 

It is the responsibility of every netizen to take responsibility for all the photos and images posted on the Internet.  Hence before posting “Always STOP and THINK” about the likely repercussions your innocent post may bring about.  

Over enthusiasm to shoot a selfie must be curbed, especially at public functions as you become more of an eyesore.  As per The Telegraph, more people have died in 2014 from selfies than shark attacks.  An engineering student from Tamil Nadu, India, fell to his death while taking a selfie.  Seven Indian youths drowned while taking selfies on Mangrul Lake, Nagpur, India as they had tipped over while posing for a selfie.