Overly Documented Childhoods

With the advent of the digital media and the relative ease of clicking digital snaps, I feel that the children of today have overly documented childhoods.

When I was a toddler growing up in the mid 70’s black and white snaps were the vogue. Towards the end of that decade color snaps became the norm. However this was still the film roll era and therefore snaps were few and many a times of varying degrees of clarity and finesse. Even today when I flip through family albums at home, I see a few snaps of me that together create a vivid picture of me growing up. All the big family vacations are covered, so are the birthday parties and other family and friends gatherings. It did help that two of my three kaka’s were photography buffs with SLR cameras.

However a lot of my friends at that time did not have half the snaps that I had of myself. But when I compare that number with the pictures that kids have today, its mind-boggling. Our two nephews are 6.5 and 3.5 years old today, and we’ve seen and clicked hundreds of snaps of them since the time they were born. A recent 5 day vacation yielded over 400 snaps and its safe to say that they were there in about 75% of them.

Our friend circle here has grown by three in the past 15 months or so with the birth of three beautiful girls to three different sets of parents. About every two weeks or so we get regular picture updates in our mailboxes. Of course we love to see the pictures and miss the updates if they dont come at the regular intervals we have become used to.

However from the point of the view of these kids, they are being photographed a lot. Thats a lot of posing and smiling to do for all of us eager over zealous adults who want to document their every smile, step, mannerism, trait and what have you. And the one reason we do it with such gay abandon is because of the advent of easy to use cheap digital cameras. it makes taking pictures so easy that we sometime click away non stop and then sift thru and select the one “prize winning” shot of the “afternoon at the park”. Kids also grow up being totally confident of the camera and know how to pose in front of them right from an early age.

I remember recently using my regular film SLR to shoot some pics of my nephews and as soon as I clicked, the youngest one ran to me and wanted to see the snap in the display screen. He was a little taken aback that there was no image and no display screen !!

Of course, when these kids grow up, they will know exactly what dress they wore every weekend of every summer, and which shoes they wore on the first day of school every semester, and so on and so forth. However unlike adults they dont have the choice to delete snaps of themselves that they disapprove. So, a note to all your parents. Make sure you dont keep pictures of your kids that they will be embarassed to look at when they are teenagers, or you got one very angry moody teenager on your hand !!

But till then, please let the picture updates keep coming in. We cant seem to get enough of them.

4 Comments

  1. the_girl_from_ipanema July 25, 2007

    Another downside of the digital era is I doubt if all these zillion snaps can be preserved for posterity’s sake. The technology of the future may not be equipped to read the current media used to store them..there’s nothing like sifting through b & w photos of my parents from their childhood..

  2. arzan July 25, 2007

    You are correct on one point. I think we are at a point where technology will find ways to keep pictures updated. A lot of technology is legacy based and completely backward compatible.

    But u strike a chord when u say that you like to flip thru an album. I find that its just not the same thing looking at snaps on a screen as it is flipping through an album.

  3. IdeaSmith August 2, 2007

    Do you ever get the feeling that there’s far less emotion, less attachment in these click-a-minute digi-pics than there was in those photographs of our childhood that took so much posing and perfecting to get one just ‘right’? Easy come, easy go is the way our memories have become too.

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