Technology is here to benefit us. At least it’s supposed to and we can do our best to not let it take over. This can be challenging – as I’ve talked about many times before. Recently it occurred to me that taking pictures with our phones, tablets, and digital cameras is a good example of technology here to support us. It’s also an illustration of how when we’re not careful, we forget to only use it to our advantage. It’s important for us to use this wonderful technology of digital pictures to supplement our memories.
Pictures can be one of those things we all have a lot of – and often it’s not as organized as we’d like. As you’ve probably heard me say before, one of the factors of getting organized is the quantity you have to deal with – and with digital pictures that quantity can quickly become overwhelming. And then when you consider you probably have both physical and digital pictures to organize – it can be paralyzing to consider organizing them – and the organization aspects are topics for other blogs.
This technology of being able to take pictures digitally has many benefits for us. There is no cost for taking the pictures – we don’t need film, let alone rolls and rolls of it on hand, just in case. We don’t actually have to spend money getting our pictures developed, although we might choose to have some printed up and those will be ones we know are good and worth the time, money, and effort of getting the physical copies. We have the immediate visual feedback about whether an image was captured – did someone blink at the exact wrong moment – and give us the chance to try again (and again and again). Then there’s the possibility of catching each and every adorable expression of your grand-kids.
On the other hand, this same technology also makes it easy to take the pictures and avoid doing else with them. It might even be a case that you might not really even look at them after taking them – the excitement of picking the developed film up to discover what was captured doesn’t apply with digital photographs. And then the options for organizing them can be quite a bit more overwhelming and procrastination becomes easier – they’re saved and you can always do it later. Just because these digital pictures don’t take up our physical spaces doesn’t mean they’re not consuming space and that space carry its own risks also beyond fire and water.
The most important thing is that there’s a difference between living the experiences and capturing it all to relive later. When you have the camera (or photo capturing device) out taking pictures, you are only partially attending to what’s going on around you and missing the experience of being fully present. Your memories are more likely to be of taking the pictures, not of the event itself. This isn’t to say that taking pictures should be eliminated – rather that when we’re not careful it’s easy to get caught up in trying to capture the experience rather than relishing each experience and getting some pictures to highlight that.
As a client and I recently talked about, would you rather watch the beautiful sunset and savor it or try to capture the beauty of the sunset in a picture to remind yourself in the future? This is definitely something I struggle with – oscillating between the extremes of regretting what I didn’t capture since I didn’t even pull out the camera to the other end of realizing that I’ve taken 350 pictures in the last 2 hours.
Let’s be honest – who wants to look at 500 pictures of your daughter’s birthday party or your vacation to the Everglades? Will you even want to look at that many pictures in a year, 5 years, or 25 years? And I’m a bit tongue in cheek since I’m probably one of those who would enjoy looking through that many pictures. Yet, even though I do like looking through tons of pictures, I can also share that I avoid looking at pictures – physical as well as digital – since it will take time to look at them all. This means that they’re not being appreciated and cannot remind you of your lovely experiences – it has ceased to benefit you. Imagine what it would be like to have a manageable number of pictures that do their simple purpose of reminding you of this and that experience – is it difficult to picture that?
There’s a balance between being fully present in the moment and capturing some images for the joy of reminiscing in the future – and what that balance looks like for you is not likely to match what it looks like for me. What matters is becoming aware of our tendencies – do you want to savor the moments more as they happen? Taking pictures is technology – whether we’ve thought about it in that way or not – and just like in all other arenas, the goal and purpose is to support you and your values. Don’t be lulled by the possibilities – make technology work for you.