My family has never been big on photographs. I am talking about my immediate family. I have aunts and uncles who fancy themselves professional photographers and seem to be willing to capture every single moment of every day of their children and grandchildren. I think some of them want to be able to stack all of these pictures together and then flip through them to create some kind of flip-book animation that shows every moment of their grandchildren. In my immediate family pictures have never been a big deal.
Sure there are pictures of key events. However, my parents home is not lined with pictures of every moment of my life or my brother's life. Why? Well, I have news for some of you. Not everything needs to be filmed and documented and hung upon the wall for people to see as if every moment of your life is worth some kind of exhibit in a museum.
Other families seem to think that everything that everyone in their family does is worthy of remembering. I think this is a problem. I think this has created a kind of rudeness that didn't exist maybe as little as fifteen years ago. These day, of course, everything in the world comes with a camera. Cameras themselves are practically microscopic. Your phone has a camera. Your MP3 player has a camera. You toothbrush probably has a camera just in case you don't have enough film of your dental habits in your photo albums.
While technology is great sometimes I think it can be a problem making it too accessible to people. There should, perhaps, be some kind of movement that actually reduces people's dependencies and technological tendencies. At the very least, for a start in that direction, we need to limit the number of cameras in the world.
I was in church recently. At the far end of the pew from where I was sitting was a nice looking older couple. As the service went forward I kept seeing movement out of the corner of my eye. At some point I realized that the man in this couple had a tiny camera and was turning around and pointing it up toward the balcony where the organist sits and musicians sometimes sit and where the choir often sits. There was a choir of girls in grades 6 – 8 singing that day. I am assuming these were related to one of these girls in some way. What this guy didn't seem to understand is that turning around and pointing this tiny camera was causing the people sitting behind him to do all kinds of contortions in an attempt to stay clear of his shot.
Now, one thing that the uninitiated when it comes to church should know is that you do NOT, under ANY circumstances, turn around to look at things unless expressly told to do so in the bulletin. Moses himself may have reappeared in black-face and top hat while holding a cane and singing "Mammie" but you were NOT to turn around. It was as if doing so would cause God to hurtle large, smoldering, craggy, violent, but ultimately holy and divine meteors through the roof of the church where they would then promptly embed themselves into your skull.
So, needless to say, this couple was violating this rule. Violation of this rule is accepted from time to time, however. What I could not believe was that they truly felt that filming this was something important. Can you honestly tell me you spend time watching all of the video footage you have of your child? Were these people going to be sitting at home one night and say, "Gee, 'Grey's Anatomy' is a repeat tonight so let's watch little Nancy's choir performance in church from January of 2007?"
Most of life is boring. I have news for you. Your child is boring. Your life is boring. The things your kid does may be absolutely wonderful and great for you but to the rest of us it is about the same as trying to watch carpeting grow. Unless your kid is a talking infant, blowing bubbles from accidentally swallowing soap or passing wind in a passable version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" they are probably not doing anything interesting.
Also, I am betting your kids never want to see that stuff again. I know my dad went through a phase of taking 8 millimeter films of family functions. You had to have an actual film projector to watch these things. My family has done that all of three times that I can remember in my life. You know what they show? A favorite is to show me knocking my young cousin off of my toy "Sit – 'N – Spin" so I could ride it.
Did you have one of those toys? They don't make toys this silly or fun anymore. It was exactly what its name was. You sat on it and turned this wheel and you spun around. Really fast. I might as well have been called the "Sit – 'N – Puke." I loved mine. However, I would rather choose to remember the fun times when I used this toy than the moment I acted like a spoiled jerk and nearly injured my cousin trying to get to the toy.
I am betting little Nancy has no desire to watch herself standing in a church balcony singing "What Child is This?" anytime soon. Right now she is just happy she didn't screw up the words or fall over the edge of the balcony. I highly doubt when she is 35 and sitting with her own kids and suddenly have a desire to show some shaky video that shows a blurry picture of her in sixth grade singing the same song mentioned before.
Thankfully my family never did get a video recorder to capture every moment of our lives growing up. My dad did not show up and record my one and only humiliating season playing little league baseball. This has left me to freely build mental blocks around those memories and pretend like it never happened.
Taking pictures for special moments is fine. Even those need to be done with caution. I hope to never run across the photos that were taken of me and my prom date, for example. However just because junior has figured out how to put food in his mouth rather than his hair I don't think qualifies as one of those moments.
Oh, and I would like to encourage the rest of us that, should we see someone trying to capture something stupid to start putting ourselves in the way. Why do we all freeze and move out of these people's way? Stand up. Wave your hands. Stick out your tongue. That way they won't want to look at those pictures anymore.