THE wave that swept every corner of the world with the current spread of smartphones which everyone possesses has changed many concepts on travelling, considering we used to carry cameras during our journeys before the smartphone curse or blessing befell us.
We used to gather hundreds of black and white photos, followed by the beautiful colored photos which narrated all stages of our lives — the composition and formation of our families in terms of happy moments, starting from birth and through the growing up stages of our children, their birthdays, graduations … etc.
These life journey photos are contained in scores of albums which we refer to easily. Perhaps, our youths, who are plunged in modern social communication media, don’t know the significance of a photo album because whatever they are interested in — information, books, music, movies, pictures and anything that crosses their minds, are found in this magical device which is always in their pockets or in their hands.
The Western world that ‘tempted’ us with this useful — disturbing — device did not leave matters as they are, just like the way we always do. Instead, the West subjected everything related to the device to analysis, social and psychological studies and comparisons.
In Germany, a futuristic research institution conducted a comprehensive research on a person’s use of the smartphone and what is known as ‘selfie’ —photos taken with a smartphone camera while being held by hand or the ‘selfie stick’, mostly close up photos of the face.
The study mentioned that the tourism scene is now reduced to as follows: a tourist appears frustrated, complaining of boredom and tiredness. Suddenly, he starts using his mobile phone to take ‘selfies’, and then we see signs of happiness, joviality and overwhelming smile on his face. It is as if the photo was taken on his birthday, New Year’s Day or a baby is born. All these occasions are reduced to a face, wide smile and the one taking a ‘selfie’.
The study said that the main need of people who take ‘selfies’ in our age has been categorized into three socio-economic views:
n Taking these photos is considered a culture of pessimism. According to a part of the study, it wastes the opportunity for people to see impressive and funny things because they focus on themselves.
n Children of this digital age take ‘selfies’ because it is easy for them, given that they did not live in the era of postcards, traveling, post office and regular means of transportation. On the other hand, they have smartphones and the social communication network which are definitely faster and more distributed than the old post card system.
n The ‘selfie’ strengthens the tendency to showoff, because when someone displays photos of his journey for his friends and relatives to see, this affirms that he is having a nice time and he is very happy as manifested in his big smile.
The study jokingly states that if French philosopher Descartes, who lived in the 17th century, was alive today; he would have change his famous saying, “I think, therefore I am” to “I ‘selfie’, therefore I am.”
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil