iPhonography: Kills Our Experiences And Memories, Or Enhances Them?

When was the last time you went to see a live concert of your favorite artist without taking out your phone to snap a photo or take a video of your favorite song? Or what about the last time you traveled to experience the beauty of different parts of the world without seeing it though the phone screen?. The habit of documenting everything we experience developed just in the past few years with the help of smarter phones, and of course the rising of social media that pushes people to share their experiences, especially in the form of photos. But is this habit actually killing our memories and experiences? Are people more focused on their phone screen than actually experience what's in front of them?

Check out this great video by BBC talking about this topic from all angles (and all smartphones).

[Via Guy Prives and BBC]

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37 Comments

WakeUp's picture

Your phone is not only tracking you, it is brainwashing you too. This isn't normal human addiction. All I see are phone zombies when I am out. Resist the brainwashing...

Andrew Williams's picture

that's why more people are getting hit by cars. They're so busy looking at their phone while driving.

Chris Pickrell's picture

As opposed to all the other reasons people got hit int he past before smart phones?

RUSS T.'s picture

yup i had a kid walk into the road, in front of my vehicle. I had noticed him walking so i didn't hit him. BUT when I honked the horn JUST A SMALL BIT he got pissed and threw me the finger...LOL saved the little f**k's life, and got told F*@K YOU for doing it....

Lightmare's picture

My solution to this is to carry only one film camera and one roll of film when going out, and ban the use of iphonography. Using 36 frames to tell the story of one day, making you think before you actuate, and helps you focus on experiencing rather than shooting.

Zach Sutton's picture

I love this idea. I might take advantage of it...

Noam Galai's picture

Agree! very cool

Andrew Griswold's picture

Have you guys seen that photography app that works the same way as a film camera? Not saying its better than a film camera and the limitations of taking only x numbers of shots on a roll but the idea of the app is you get 36 shots per roll and you cannot see the photo after you take it until the roll is finished and you cant start a new roll until you finish a roll. I cant remember the name of the app to save my life but will find it. Maybe I saw it on here?

Andrew Griswold's picture

Found it! Just in case anyone was curious. The app that I was talking about above is called RollFilmTimes and lets you choose between 24 and 36 rolls and will not let you "develop" the film to your Camera Roll until after all the shots are taken. Yes its not the same as a real roll of film but it somewhat gets you in the mind set of thinking before you shoot. Also all the rolls are saved in "film rolls" in the app as collections to share. This also keeps you on your toes to make all the shots great.

Zach Ashcraft's picture

I do this digitally by bringing a small 2GB card with me :)

Paul Kremer's picture

I actually wonder this every time I go to a concert. People are so consumed with taking video of the concert that they can't possibly be enjoying the experience of BEING at the concert. Rewatching your crappy iPhone videos will not compare to just EXPERIENCING the concert while you are there. I saw a funny cartoon once that summed it up..."That was the best concert I never saw!"

RUSS T.'s picture

ya i agree.
One thing I thought of while watching these people, is as they watched and recorded the concert, on that small small screen, " HEY DUMASS PUT DOWN THE PHONE THE ACTUAL STAGE IS TEN FEET FROM YOU THIS IS THE BEST H.D. YOU'LL EVER EXPERIENCE!!!!"

Bob Bell's picture

Bang on.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I haven't used my smartphone to record a video in a long while. I used my smartphone to record the audio of the final Space Shuttle launch on July 8, 2011, while I shot about six frames on Kodak Ektar 100.
Okay, I did record a song at a local Greek festival, but I also brought along my 35mm film camera for the event.

RUSS T.'s picture

I walked into a local coffee shop, and witnessed four girls sitting at a table, each with a coffee, and TEXTING EACH OTHER!! (instead of lifting their heads and speaking the words to the girl a meter away...

Norshan Nusi's picture

The good side in this situation is that.... they're not making any noise :D

Juan Garcia's picture

You are all right. We should all go back to pad and pen, search in yellow pages, regular mail, and ask people for directions. I hate to say it, its a bitter pill to swallow. Times will change, and old ways will fall on the way side. That is just life. There is nothing you can do but adapt to it. Thats evolution for you. My father is 85 years old, he has an iPhone, and an iPad. I take pride in the fact that he has embraced it. He was never into photography like me, but its great to see him shoot and take pictures daily. Not everyone shooting pics with an iPhone is trying to be a photographer. They are shooting these moments for themselves. I don't think people realize that.

PMW's picture

I fully understand and it's great that they are at least being creative, but is anyone else getting a bit bored of seeing photos of everyone's uneaten food and drinks appearing on their Facebook (or whatever) stream?

Willi Kampmann's picture

I know it's not the point, but the BBC video feels like a perfect advertisement for the Memoto camera. :-X

Michael Populus's picture

As a photographer and visual artist i count the act of taking photos part of my experience. Either way i am going to be taking images and documenting my day. Its something I ENJOY DOING. That is part of the moment for me. My phone is always on me, and its nice to not have to carry around a large, really expensive setup to get a photo of a friend in beautiful light when i see it. I fully support Iphoneography and i think that its their life. Stop worrying about what others are doing, if they choose to take video instead of watching the concert it is their life. Let them do what makes them happy, they paid the money to have the choice to spend that time the way they want.

Adam Cross's picture

people engage and enjoy experiences in different ways now, I wouldn't say recording something on your phone means you're detached and not enjoying it - the same as if getting drunk means you can't enjoy it since you're not completely aware of everything going on :P I also think that too many people are concerned with what other people are doing ;) enjoy shows etc for yourself, don't waste energy worrying about what others are upto.

Jens Marklund's picture

Interesting stuff. I get annoyed when 80% of the people I'm having lunch with, are on their phones - waiting for someone to bring up an interesting subject. Even if you tell them about something you heard, there's always someone who has to google it and correct you - so they feel like they know everything.

This era is s**t.

LJB_65's picture

ughh how annoying :( I find riding the elevators up and down at work, and everyone gets on their phone. It's not like we are all concerting multi-million dollar banking deals...jeesh! Try to make some small talk and they look at you like a deer caught in the headlights!

Sean Shimmel's picture

Hyper IPhoneography is like rat-pellet feedback.

Stimulus and response gone... bad

Keith Hammond's picture

I'm the only one in our house that actually watches the TV

LJB_65's picture

that could be a good thing ;)

Keith Hammond's picture

This pic should have been with my comment

Connor MacKinney's picture

interesting. I do think when ever subjects like this are brought up they are a little exaggerated. We are on our phones a lot but i think only a few people are the extreme. The psychologist mentioned being obsessed with the gaining of approval of actions through social media, but people forget we have always been looking for approval from peers. why do people dress the way they do or act the way they do, they want to be accepted it is just more obvious to see this search fro approval now a days because of social media.

Christina's picture

My personal opinion is that iPhones (androids, whatever) cheapen the experience of life. My gosh, if you can and do take a picture of everything, how do you ever learn and/or retain the ability to take it in and comprehend? There is no longer any point in feeling empathy, excitement, awe, etc because it all boils down to who whips out the phone and posts an annoying instagram or facebook photo faster. Not only that, it also encourages people to document every bleeding thing they do throughout the day. I find it annoying. Being able to call people anytime anywhere creates it's own set of issues as well. People are on their phones talking or snap shooting 18 hours a day, at some point they will just evolve with the technology hard wired in. Not saying there's not a lot of good that comes from digital communication, it's just that 95% of it is erroneous crap.

BROGGO's picture

I don't think iPhoneography is to blame but more to do with the social networks. I think taking pictures, on any device, is a great thing. Providing that whoever is taking the picture is truly enjoying that moment and not just finding the next shot of what they are drinking to pop up on social media. I am a photographer, iDevice nut, and an App addict but I do it all for my own personal reasons or add a new medium to share my experience with friends and family. I think the kids of today don't stand a chance when they have all the pressures of being liked or cool in the real world as well as in cyberspace. This is the reason that kids at stupidly young ages, saw a 12 year old with an iPad and an iPhone, who have to have a running commentary of pointless status updates and crappy photos in a hope to be accepted. I find it very sad but also exciting as more and more people are taking pictures.

Yousif Sadik's picture

This is one of the reasons why I have dropped my flickr account, and have returned back to film. I don't mind the fact that you can take a photo with your phone. It is an absolutely great tool and comes handy in many occasions. I personally take photos with my phone when I see something funny or cool, and keep it to myself. Something I consider not worthy to spend my 35mm film on.

I feel that these days photography has lost its meaning. There is too much of it. I’ve realized all that I was trying to achieve from my photography is to get recognition from other people. But to what cause? I picked up photography because I enjoyed taking photos and want to learn to take great photos. Not to show them off to the world, but to be proud of something I “made”. Flickr, Deviantart and 500px feel like a popularity competition. Like this picture, share it, comment on it, post it in a group get some meaningless awards from some random hillbilly.

Let’s be really harsh here, 80% of what is on Flickr is not good photography. Of course the discussion of what good photography is not something you can define. So let’s rephrase it. 80% of Flickr is personal photography. Photo’s of a places and things you’ve been to and have seen. They might not mean anything to anyone, but they mean something to you. They have a personal value.

When I looked through my flickr and deviantart, I realized my photos aren’t amazing, but they are amazing to me. And that I am sharing them with the wrong people. I want to be able to show and get feedback from the people I know, not from someone halfway across the globe.

I know some people might disagree with what I say. Take for example the photo I have put in for this blog post. It was hung up in my department as I won a prize with that image, and it got published in the department newsletter. This meant a lot more to me then the 0 comments and 34 views I got for it on Flickr. Moral of the story? You get more satisfaction out of your photography when it is appreciated by people you know.

(FYI this is from my blog).

Mbutu Namubu's picture

There's a character in David Lynch's film "Lost Highway" that never takes photographs because he doesn't want his memories ruined by reality. His point could have been that what people may choose to pay attention to and consequently remember about an event or an object is always going to be different from what the camera pays attention to and remembers. Maybe personal memories are better than camera memories.

Also, it's understandable that hobbyists or photo bloggers would take pictures during their leisure time, but I find it difficult to understand why professional photographers with clients would want to take pictures when they're not working. A professional photographer should associate photography with work instead of leisure, so I'd assume that a vacation or break for him would consist of getting as far AWAY from cameras as possible.

Richard James's picture

UMMMMM, OK!
Am I the only one that finds it ironic that the article is about people wasting time and not paying attention to there surroundings bc they are on their phones taking pictures.
WELL WTF ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE DOING ON HERE COMPLAINING ABOUT IT.
You're wasting your time in cyberspace posting your thoughts to people you will most likely never meet.

IMHO what the real problem is here, is everyone giving too much of a crap about the person next to them who they do not know. Give it a rest, carry on with your life, and maybe.....just maybe, you can worry about making your own life a good one. Out your mouse down, turn off the monitor and unplug yourself, then and only then do you have the right to even begin to have an opinion on "being to wrapped up" in technology

I'm not saying I do this, bc in fact I document the crap out of my life. My phone, my camera, my p+s, go pro, what ever it takes. They are my memories, I will create and remember them how I chose to. Who are you to tell me whats right or wrong, or if I should live the moment. We take pictures as a job to allow people to remember, kind of stupid that we are telling them not to do it themselves, don't ya think?

Shannon Wimberly's picture

I work in a college town... one day while leaving work i drove down a street where there is student housing. I happen to drive by a house with at least 15-20 students on the front porch and steps all sitting next to and standing together..... and every one of them were looking down at their mobile devices in a bizarre trance.... i had to take a double take on that one....

Actually i believe, we all have already been assimilated... those who choose to not... miss out on this vast collective socialization which is bigger than our own little personal lives.....its nice to keep in touch with many friends and renew old relationships...... and addictions can be controlled with moderation, i believe it enhances life so i don't resist it..... i still have a good life away from my phone as well.... im a musician, photographer, love to drink and have fun with people i have connected with on Facebook.... found some good lovin there too ;) Its how it is!!!!

Jorge Tamez's picture

Louis CK said it best: (NSFW language)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd2sRC3K9Hs

Rick Nunn's picture

If you can't control yourself then it's your loss.

markmui's picture

I would argue that it is normal. Humans are addicted to
novelty. New information that arises that changes our states of mind or our moods. This need to stay in the know is a byproduct of our evolution, our need
to gather information. Couple this with the growing attention deficit that our
society is plagued with and the accessibility of media from our technology,
it’s quite obvious why ppl spend so much time on their devices.