by Sumayyah Meehan
How many times have you gone to an event or an occasion and scrambled to grab your cell phone or camera? Or exhibited obsessive-compulsive behaviors when making sure that your digital imaging device is always charged and at the ready to capture each moment before it fleetingly passes into the distance? If you’re anything like me, then your digital imaging device is like a third arm. It may as well be a whole other member of the family given its importance in preserving some of life’s most precious memories.
It wasn’t until recently that I became concerned with just how big a part of taking pictures is altering the very fabric of daily life and social interactions. The epiphany did not even hit me until I was taking a stroll at Marina Mall and took on the position of a bystander soaking in the scene. I just so happened to be perched near a group of teenage girls who were busy taking “selfies” with each of their cell phones. As the camera was preparing to snap, each girl burst into a high-watt smile that was positively gleaming. The second each was shot, all three went back to the mundane task of going through each one to determine which was the best to post on their collective social-networking pages. Instead of enjoying the moment of an afternoon spent with friends, it was degraded by trying to preserve it digitally versus relishing the experience and committing it to memory.
According to a recent study conducted by Fairfield University in the USA, Psychologist Linda Henkel revealed, “We collect photos almost as if they’re trophies, or evidence, but that’s not the same thing as trying to capture the experience.” It took only a quick glance through my digital photography archive, which stores images from both my cell phone and camera online, to realize the trap that I too had fallen into. I scrolled through image after image of glorious sunsets captured at Al Kout Mall, a litter of kittens nestled beneath the rocks at Sharq Mall and images of my children frolicking near the rough waves on a windy day in the Persian Gulf. All of the images were taken recently, yet my memory did not recall even half of them better than my camera did.
It’s easy to get caught up in taking pictures and recording life’s moments. In our Digital Age, life moves fast and having a digital imaging device may seem like the only way to capture time before it passes. However, consider the relationships and quality time with those whom you hold dear that is wasted while you fiddle with an imaging device. While it’s important to preserve your memories, it’s not necessary to do it incessantly and without limits. Take the initiative once in awhile to leave your device at home and instead focus on the moment with one of the most powerful memory tools known to man… your brain.
When it comes to making and preserving memories to last a lifetime, it’s all about balance. Use the power of technology and an equal measure of your own human abilities to truly immortalize your most prized memories.