The famous philosopher Descartes once said “I think therefore I am” in order to help us understand the complicated thoughts about our own existence.
Today we just take selfies.
At first the concept of a selfie made sense. If you were on vacation somewhere you had never been before and were in front of a beautiful setting, but no one around to give your camera to in order to document the occasion, you turned the camera around and did your best to take a photo of your surroundings with you in the photograph.
Of course, in the old days (Pre-2002) when you had to carry around a camera, the odds of taking a good photo of yourself were small since you couldn’t see exactly what the framing of the picture looked like. You often you ended up with a great picture of the grand canyon behind you, but only your left earlobe and eyeball.
Still, film used to cost good money as did developing the picture, so you added this keepsake to your collection of photographs despite the lousy framing.
The idea in keeping these photos were that when you were old and grey and your grandchildren would come to visit you would take out your battered box of photographs and share them while sitting around the dining room table.
“Is that you at the Grand Canyon grandma? It looks like your eyeball.”
These are the kinds of memories that are, I am sad to say, gone forever.
Today there is no need to lug a camera along on a trip, today we bring along our smartphones which have not only a great camera to take photos with, but also provide an instant source of communication with the rest of the world in case something should go wrong. They also provide a sense of amusement in case any part of our trip should get a little tedious.
No longer do we have to be bored by the unending rows of the same looking vineyards as we take a tour of California’s wine country. Today, we can now cut through the monotony by using our phones to connect to Facebook to see what our “friends” are eating for breakfast back on the East Coast. Maybe, if it is an exceptionally good day, someone will post a video of their cat falling off a chair while sleeping which we can share with anyone else on the bus under the age of forty (Those over forty will roll their eyes over this intrusion of technology during such a beautiful tour, but they will still try and sneak a peek of the video over your shoulder while you aren’t paying attention which, of course, since you have a smartphone, you never are.)
The best part of today’s smartphones are the built in cameras for they gives us the opportunity to memorialize our trip with a photo of our giant smiling head in front of each landmark (which will be barely visible in the background).
They also give us the opportunity to see the photo immediately after it is taken and if we don’t like it, we can quickly erase it and take another and another and another until we catch the impromptu moment perfectly. (This can often take hours.)
Better still, we can instantly send the photo to Facebook for all of our friends to see and be jealous of our journey. We will then spend a great deal of the rest of our vacation time checking Facebook to see if our friends commented on just exactly how jealous they are.
One of the benefits of being able to take a “selfie” over and over again until you get exactly the look you want is that you will be preserving for your children and grandchildren a series of perfect photographs for them to enjoy for generations.
“Gee grandma you really look great in this photograph, just like you do in every photograph. Is that the Eiffel Tower behind you?”
“Eiffel Tower? I don’t remember seeing that. But it is a great photo of me giving a double thumbs up. Don’t you think?”
The age of the selfie is most likely here to stay. In fact, I recently read of a new, small drone that can be programmed to hover around a person all day and film their every move which can then be posted online.
The claim is that people can use it to promote their business or skill without the cost of a big production, but I think the creators really know what most people will use it for.
As Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard famously said: “I’m ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille.”
And to paraphrase Descartes: “I click therefore I am.”
Find out more on Brendan’s books and upcoming appearances at his website www.BrendanTSmith.com