Paul E. Anna: High Points
October 28, 2011
Until about a century ago, if you didn’t see something with your own eyes, in real life, you didn’t see it at all. Oh, there may have been a painting, an artist’s interpretation of a person, place, thing or event, but other than that if you wanted to know what something looked like you had to either look at it or imagine it.
I was thinking about that this week when I was a couple of thousand miles away in New Orleans and I had a hankering to see what the weather was doing in Aspen. I simply opened my phone and turned to the Aspen/Snowmass website where I had a series of webcams at my disposal to show me the snowstorm. Wanting to see if the snow was falling on the roads, I turned to the Colorado Department of Transportation site and checked out the cameras at the roundabout and the one at Aspen Junction, and so on and so on.
Amazing. While sitting in Jackson Square nibbling on beignets in a bright southern sun I had a better than bird’s-eye view of what was going on back home. So much for having to use my imagination.
In fact, with the ever-improving quality of cell phone technology, I don’t have to imagine anything at all. I simply turn on my phone and there are the images, still and moving, of my friends skiing, the dinners my friends are eating, the adventures they are having. Between photo embedded text messages, emails with photos attached, links to youtube clips that friends forward, I seem to spend more time with those who I am close to when they are far away than I do when they are close. In other words, with many people my relationships have become more virtual than real.
Not that I am complaining mind you. The reflexive urge to grab my iPhone and click a photo is now a fully formed part of my day to day routine. The sun rises? iClick. The beignets are killer? iClick. The Springer Spaniel with the powdered sugar on his nose is too cute? iClick. It seems that if anything strikes my fancy I fancy a photo of it. In high-megapixel-definition. It begs the question, if a tree falls in the forest and I didn’t get a photo of it, did it really fall?
All are points to ponder as I sit here on this sunny morning wondering what constitutes reality anyway. Have we traded technological savvy for the ability to separate reality from a world of recorded reality? Is that a good thing? Would we be better off back in the day when the only visual record of something was that which was created by an artist with both skills and an agenda? Or should we just go with the flow and keep on clicking and storing our lives away on digital hard drives.
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If I find any answers I’ll be sure to tweet you. In the meantime, I need to take a picture of the steam rising from this cup o’ chicory coffee sitting in front of me.
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