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Photography and social media – counting the cost.

DSC01598Who doesn’t want a new phone every year? But do we really NEED one? The recent rise in both the supply and consumption of social media has been a boon for retailers selling the latest mobile hardware with agressive marketing techniques. Most manufacturers now upgrade their flagship model every six months and many consumers have an appetite for the latest gadget. These devices are no longer simply “phones”, they are a touch screen controlled computer in your pocket, sporting more powerful multi-processors than desktop PC’s of 7 years ago.

DSC01606With a huge range of competing companies and devices, the advance in technology in the last few years has been staggering. Most if not all these devices now sport cameras, some with 16 megapixel and higher resolution with greatly improved image quality  and are tethered to increasinly faster and larger wireless networks making it more accessible than ever for anyone to capture a moment and share it directly with their friends – or the world – through easy to use “free” social media networks.

DSC01146BBut is social media actually free, or social? Many people now seemingly live there lives through a tiny screen, staring at it instead of what’s happening live right in front of them, capturing every moment to share – ironically, exactly what I was doing for this project, this realisation made me become more aware, observant and even patient. I began to question within myself everything about social media.

DSC01855-BMany people love their devices. They decorate them, buy accessories, hold them with pride and gently caress the shiny screen in awe. It completely captivates them. They pull them out at every opportunity.

DSC01824Why do we do it? Is it for our own satisfaction or do we think others will be interested in what we do – what we saw? Does it enrich our lives – or make us time poor? What happens to all this collected data – where does it end up?

DSC01161Capturing, editing, creating and sharing a moment in time has quickly become a very common and generally accepted phenonenum. We give this information away freely  – often valuable, private data – to social media without thought, to be stored on a large companies server which can often be used at their whim – even in advertising without your express permission.

DSC01329-BIt seems if we’re not capturing social media, we’re consuming it. While it can be a great way to catch up on work, family or friends in other locations, we’re drawn away from those sitting right next to us while we interact on our precious little screens.
We can get so involved with what’s happening in that little box we often even ignore those important to us. It can change our emotions, suck us away to another world and steal part of our life!
We not only often give up copyright ownership to our content, we’re also helping these big companies build up an online profile about us and our friends. Not only with each post but with every click, every view, we are tracked and give a little more of ourselves away. These profiles can be used for targeted advertising, our data can be sold or traded and is extremely valuable.
Every time we leave a device on in our pocket and it’s teathered to a network we are not only contactable, our movements are also trackable, especially with GPS enabled.

DSC01339 Social media is not unlike an addiction to a drug. We crave it. It changes our behaviour. It doesn’t discriminate between young and old, race or class.  As we lovingly consume it, it also consumes us!
Wireless networks get larger, faster, more powerful. We put large radio towers next to schools and houses. We don’t yet know the full effects on society, on relationships, on our health, the long term consequences of all this information constantly passing through the air around us, inside us.

DSC01471In our lust for digital media, we also consume physical resources. Previously loved devices now broken, traded in for the latest model. Many products are refurbished and distributed to “poorer” countries or broken down and recycled. Many end up as landfill. These devices contain precious metals, contaminating heavy metals and toxic chemical batteries.

The want of a new phone.
The gift of tech.

What is the true cost of social media?


5 responses

  1. chaschadwick

    Very strong an thoughtful piece, Anthony. Good luck with your photography. Cheers Charles

    Liked by 1 person

    2016-02-25 at 6:07 PM

    • Thanks Charles, I bit the bullet and uploaded projects 1 & 2 today to the Uni dropbox. Now for the wait for final assessment. I enjoyed the course. Best of luck with yours 🙂


      2016-02-25 at 8:23 PM

  2. Great photo essay and commentary to go with it Anthony!
    Tamagotchi has become yawegotcha.

    I find your nature work very inspiring.
    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    2016-02-26 at 4:53 PM

    • Thanks Paul, I much prefer photographing nature than people 🙂


      2016-02-26 at 9:18 PM

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