The ubiquity of time makes stamping it with a moral judgement absurd. We don’t fear or reject time, it is simply part of what is admirable about our reality (instant navigation, the Internet), and also part of what is less so (irrational obsession over productivity, nuclear warfare).
“The definition of photography is changing, too, and becoming more of a language,” the Brooklyn-based artist and professional photographer Joshua Allen Harris told me. “We’re attaching imagery to tweets or text messages, almost like a period at the end of a sentence. It’s enhancing our communication in a whole new way.”
In other words, “the term ‘photographer’ is changing,” he said. As a result, photos are less markers of memories than they are Web-browser bookmarks for our lives. And, just as with bookmarks, after a few months it becomes hard to find photos or even to navigate back to the points worth remembering. Google made hoarding bookmarks futile. Today we think of something, and then we Google it. Photos are evolving along the same path as well.
Months after we returned to New York, I asked He about her relationship with photo sharing, particularly when personal safety was at risk.
He told me that she tries to put down her phone when traveling, but “the pull to share” gets her. She also sets her phone down when she finds herself more sucked into the images of others lives than her own.
“Everyone puts their best foot forward,” He said, “And we try so hard to make it all look so desirable, constantly, at the peril of tragedy by selfie stick. The thing that I, and I think society as a whole, is struggling with at this point in time is — what are the lines between our online personas and our real life ones?”