The Baby-Bees have long been rolling their eyes when, over the years, I have shouted out from the driver’s seat, “Look guys! My favourite tree of all time!”. I have a handful of them dotted about the country and I like to check them as the seasons go by. I am a very keen gardener so, admittedly, am slightly obsessed, but we all have things we particularly notice and enjoy, be it plants, man-hole covers, bridges, faded signs, plates of food or beautiful buildings. More and more I find myself reaching for my phone to take pictures of things I like. Is this a good thing? I think the jury’s out.
I am old enough to remember a time when the family camera (this is yonks before digital cameras were widely available) was kept for special holidays or family celebrations and even then, the photos were rationed as it was expensive to have the film developed. Now most of us have really decent cameras built into our smart phones and we snap away with abandon.
Digital overload is a very real thing. The more technologically savvy I become (not very, according to the Baby-Bees) the more I seem to have the concentration of a gnat. I find myself constantly checking for updates and seeing if there is a reply to that vitally important/hugely amusing email I sent. When my phone pings I assume the notification is for something far more interesting and exciting than I am currently doing. I end up not concentrating terribly effectively on about 7 things at once. This cannot be good.
So I am determined to force myself to take more notice of things around me and not take photos but try to work on my ability to form lasting memories (before dementia sets in?) It makes you wonder whether our brains might be evolving to have less capacity to memorise things. Indeed there is research from 2013 to show that taking photos has a negative impact on how well we remember an experience http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/no-pictures-please-taking-photos-may-impede-memory-of-museum-tour.html . The psychologist from Fairfield University, Connecticut who conducted the research called this “photo-taking impairment effect”. Talking about memory, those of us who are 50+ will remember a time when you happily memorised a dozen (or more) phone numbers. I am damn proud to announce that I do know my own mobile number now but I certainly don’t know anyone else’s.
So we need to look up, look out and look around and see the beautiful things which give us pleasure, but perhaps just fleetingly have them as a memory rather than a photo.
Or I could be entirely wrong…..
Annie Bee x
PS A few days after publishing this post I saw an article about a photographer who is interested in this very subject. http://www.arturbanski.com/live-view
We are losing the experience of being there because we are focused on the technical process of trying to capture it