We all love documenting our lives and our obsession with it continues to grow at breakneck speed. You’ve probably heard statistics about the number of photos we all take: a conservative estimate of the number of snaps that will be taken in 2017 stands at 1.2 trillion (1,200,000,000,000), up from 380 billion (380,000,000,000) just five years ago.
About half of those are of first-born babies. About a quarter of them are of my first-born baby. Just kidding, although I don’t think a day went by in those first few months where we didn’t take a whole series of adoring shots of our beautiful arrival. (Sorry to my second-born, just as beautiful but who has the time when you’re balancing a toddler and newborn, often literally.)
Anyway when you think about it, there are a LOT of gigabytes or terabytes or whatever taken up by photos taken of babies and children. We keenly document their smiles, their tears, their naps, their waking moments, in fact their every bloody move.
So it’s not surprising that these kids are now so used to having their (mama &-)paparazzi around that they’re wondering where we are when we’re not pointing a phone at their latest incredible achievement. Like an unusually large bogey, a noodle balanced on a nose or some such thing… ‘Can you take a video?!’
I think it’s a pretty universal phenomenon, in our culture anyway, but I wonder if my kids (and other kids in separated families) have this tendency more than most, due to the fact that whatever they’re doing, there is always at least one parent absent. Much as I find it annoying that they need to take a photo to send to Daddy at every significant (or not so significant) moment, I do of course love being on the receiving end when the roles are reversed and they’re staying with him.
It’s all pretty harmless at the moment, and of course fantastically amazing that we are all able to stay in touch with each other in a way that would have been impossible without WhatsApp. But I do worry about the patterns we’re creating for our children around documenting and sharing their lives through photos and videos. Sharing with your parent on WhatsApp is one thing, but the next step is only a couple of platforms and a few years away – the slightly terrifying prospect of kids on social media.
But that’s a whole other blog post.
Photo byJoseph Chan