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Clicking at a fast pace

BusinessWorld logo BusinessWorld 11/7/2018
a screenshot of a cell phone: Clicking at a fast pace Clicking at a fast pace

By Tony Samson

WITH the invention of the camera built into the handphone, a gadget as indispensable as the wallet or purse (OMG, I forgot my phone at home), any grouping of people can be photographed and the image quickly posted. A camera always at hand has changed behavior, especially the social pastime of rumor mongering.

This phenomenon of the viral gossip was effectively visualized in the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, when the most eligible bachelor (Nicky) dated in New York and invited home to Singapore for a wedding his girlfriend, Rachel. The text messages and photos whirled across the Pacific in nanoseconds to create buzz in another part of the world.

The “photo-me” habit has gone beyond the selfie. Even with the clumsily telescoping selfie stick that can, with the right length, take a graduation photo, there is still the need to enlist the help of third parties to get a shot that can take in the background, say, the Eiffel Tower. Waitresses have as part of their new job description the ability to take photos using different gadgets, sometimes in one setting — can you take another one with my phone? (Heads closer, please.)

The craze to memorialize the moment has gone to unintended lengths.

Celebrity couples having dinner in a restaurant can be snapped by a fan. (Did you just take our picture?) The whole incident may wind up as a court case, against the celebrities digitally bullying the stalker by calling her a stalker. The lawyers have their media moment along with a grieving mom — how much rest does she need for that pregnancy?

Very intimate moments (I want to remember this forever) — she is doing yoga on a mattress, are uploaded for public viewing, when extracted from phones being repaired. Even old video scandals of now married and sedate couples are still doing the rounds. (Look at your waist then, Hon.)

What about the blogs of food reviewers? Will they be complete without a shot of the pasta to be had in Venice — the most glorious olive oil and garlic angel hair pasta in the world. The superlatives are not too far behind, even with a blurred shot from shaking with too much enthusiasm. (Even the burps are delicious.)

Can road rage be newsworthy without a stolen video from a phone recording the aggressive lady beating up a senior citizen? (It was his fault.) This kind of candid camera moment is sure to make it to primetime news and YouTube on a slow news day without a super-typhoon. Follow-up stories will have the TV crew camping outside the garage of the violent matron who is unavailable for comment.

In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman distinguishes between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” A concert lasting two hours may be afterwards characterized for the discordant last three minutes by the remembering self. This dismisses the brilliant 117 minutes of the experiencing self as somehow irrelevant, depicting the whole concert a disaster. This phenomenon of memory is also tagged as “duration neglect.” The longer duration of brilliant music is forgotten because of the bad ending which lasted just a few minutes.

Do photos of a dinner ensure that the experiencing self is preserved. If later that evening, one loses his credit card, does that unconnected incident take away the pleasure of the dining experience? Of course, it does. The evening will thereafter be remembered as the night you lost your credit card, not the lobster and wine experience. Maybe the bad memory is balanced out with photos of the enjoyable meal.

A few believe that the photo craze takes something away from an actual experience. They bring no cameras nor take photos with their phones, as this distracts them from feeling the moment. Can the setting sun in the Aegean Sea viewed from a yacht not be more intensely felt by not having to scramble around to get a better angle on the clouds turning orange and gray with the sun behind the clouds — oops, you missed the penumbra moment. Poets shouldn’t take photos.

Clicking at a fast pace turns the moment into just a photo op. With memorable slices of life, it’s the remembering self that keeps the emotional files. And when memory flees (as they sometimes do), so do the emotions. And by that time, it hardly matters. Everything by then is in the cloud, of one sort or another.


A.R. Samson is chairman and CEO, TOUCH xda.

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