Published: Nov 22, 2016 12:00:00 PM

pumpkin-spice-cheerios.jpgUbiquitous phone photography has shrunk the world. Don't confuse this shrinking with automatic vanity.

So, hey, it doesn't take perfect eyesight to recognize every jerk in the world is toting a camera more powerful than space-race era NASA. Further examination may reveal that the younger the user, the more engaged the individual appears to be with the camera device attached to their mobile phone.

Gross, right?

Wrong. The world is shrunk. Humankind is not hardwired to be this engaged this often, communicating through electronic alchemy with strangers. The photograph makes us all realer. It makes you realer. It makes me realer.

It makes the surrounding world realer. I don't regret my inability to apologize: phone photography is one of man's greatest inventions.

\\\ We are the children of embarrassed grandparents.

You could be of two minds when noticing a person taking photos in public:

  1. You dislike the person's vain grab for self-worth
  2. You enjoy the world's limitless potential

If you choose option 1, I invite you to whip yourself out a fiftieth story window onto the awaiting concrete because that's the only way you can split a fissure wide enough in that thick skill to welcome in this knowledge.

Shared embarrassment is the glue that held together mob justice cruel enough to burn the Salem witches. Get this: you witness somebody similar to you performing an action. Noticing such similarities, you accidentally project yourself into that person's place, unable to control your action, an action like taking a photograph of orange leaves in white snow. You experience second-hand embarrassment. It's like your grandkid is building a sandcastle in the bunker beside a golf course's 18th green. And your boss is watching!

"Oh, fuck! Fuck my grandkid, don't they understand how inappropriate this is? If I did that as a child, my dad would run over my hand with the push-mower to teach me a lesson—ooohhhhh, this makes sense now."

But still, this person taking the photo is vain. They think their thirteen INSTAGRAM friends would actually care if they saw leaves in the snow?

You suddenly consider if you even had two friends to rub together. You think about sex by accident again. Something inside your heart cools.

You wonder if your friends' new kid counts as your friend?

\\ Phone photography is storytelling. Phone photography is not vanity.


Countless morons assume every kid with a wool cap and an INSTAGRAM account is trying to be make it as a big-money internet-personality. I suppose cable news channels running year-end human interest features about PewDiePie and his ilk are to blame for the aimless and depressed in the flatlands realizing, "hey, you can, like, make money just by BEING ALIVE on the internet."

Now these emotionally-dim adults aim their jealousy at young folks attracting an audience twenty years after their own rock act lost the battle of the bands because the club owner wanted to bang the singer for that girl-group, probably, or whatever, I don't think about it anymore.

But look at those little fuckers. They think they're gonna get anywhere solely through bootstrapping and self-promotion. Just by taking pictures?

These cock-sore shit-pumpkins assume there's something wrong with people that want to post what they see to the internet. A quick comparison to walk back that attention-grabbing insult: posting an image to a photo feed to followers is identical to grabbing a beer after work with friends and describing that turd you saw on a recumbent bike on your drive in. Same thing.

Framing, setting filters, hashtagging, it's all just contextual flavoring for creating the new millennia's fisherman story.

"I once caught a fish THIS BIG!"

Bullshit. But it's not a bad story.

\ Get over your anxiety and take a picture.

Consider yourself. Consider your own family. Consider the people who care about you and that would take interest in what you see and do.

Take a photo of something you saw today and send it to them. Do it again tomorrow.

Strike up a conversation about what you're seeing. Think about why you found that object worth your time and their time.

Do it again tomorrow. Be precocious. Be youthful. Be open.

Send the picture to your grandma. She'd be happy to hear from you.

-- Alex Crumb
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