Is a picture really worth a thousand words?


By Mitchell Flack:

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? When reflecting on this old idiom in what many consider a new century of technological revolution, one can see the changing nature of visual experience through the lens of the smartphone camera. It is quickly becoming the primary habit or impulse of the millennial generation to respond to visual stimuli with their smartphones; capturing and saving a moment at the click of a button and sharing it all over the world through an invisible and interconnected web of digital mediums, almost as if we’re creating a portfolio of sensory experience.

The modern preoccupation with selfies, snapchatting and instagramming every aspect of our lives, has confused me until recently; be it the 30 obligatory minutes trudging through a session at the gym or framing a café lunch through filters and exposure adjustments. Being someone who frequently goes to live music shows, the concept of watching and experiencing a performance through a camera phone has always baffled me. Although, admittedly and unashamedly, I am a serial poster on Catspotting, because who can resist taking a snapshot of an elusive fluff-ball when presented the opportunity.

But it took a trip overseas to really change my perception about smartphones and their value in capturing quick snapshots or moments in time in a way that a regular camera seems to lack. The value appears to lie in its immediacy. Before you’ve taken the time to remove your lens cap and adjust your focus, the moment has passed. And the person standing next to you has captured that moment, relished it and moved on to the next with the ease of a few flicks of the finger.

I’ve also come to the understanding that there is nothing wrong with stopping in a moment, enjoying the experience and taking the time to capture it. So long as you’re taking the time to look up from the screen and experience life without a technological filter. Memories fade, but the physical remnants and digital afterimage that we can capture at any time can last as a reminder, a snapshot in time.

So perhaps in this modern age, with the immediacy of the smartphone camera, the memories we are so eager and obsessed to capture are worth more than we give them credit. I don’t see it as an obstruction of experience, merely an enhancement.

by mitchell flack two

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