Hissy Fit - April 2015

Pic Your Battles: Please Stop Taking My Picture


By Elizabeth Millen

You’ve probably heard of Snapchat. It’s the fun, hot social media site amongst teens right now, since adults have taken over Facebook. Snapchat allows users to send snap shots, usually of oneself (selfies), to one person, a select group of people or all friends, called a story. The photo is viewable up to 10 seconds and then it is gone forever.

Seems fairly innocuous. It’s not. Snapchat is my daughter’s favorite app and she is constantly taking photos of me to put on her Snapchat. I walk into the kitchen in my pajamas to get water and there she is…snap.  I am reading quietly in my bed…snap. I am singing in the car…snap. Nowhere is safe anymore. I am constantly on the lookout of being photographed in places, clothing and bad hair I don’t want on Snapchat.

It doesn’t stop at photographs, either. There are videos. We have had fun with it, but it’s getting out of control. I have talked to other parents and they, too, have to sneak around the house to avoid the camera. It’s an epidemic. Words of discipline have become, “Do not take my picture when I’m in pajamas! Do not video me washing my face! Do not put this on Snapchat! Do not come in this room with your phone (camera)! No taking pictures at the dinner table!”  It’s like I live with the paparazzi. I’m thinking I understand how celebs feel when they grab a photographer’s camera and violently throw it. Enough is enough.

Who would have ever thought we would have an entire society of children obsessed with taking photos of themselves and loading them up for everyone to see? I see kids all the time making stupid faces at the camera and I know it's headed for Snapchat. I know one teen who takes no less than 30 pictures of herself an hour. No lie! Girls will sit in a group, not talk to each other, but take selfies so they can see each other on Snapchat. Have we lost our minds?

I feel like I’m losing mine. The obsession with social media, phones, selfies, and constant texting is driving me crazy. My daughter’s ringtone for texts is a duck quacking. Her phone quacks constantly. I just want to scream, “Shut the duck up!” I have no idea how these kids function in today’s world. It’s like their entire life is played out in social media via a cellular phone. But it’s not just kids who are addicted to their phones. Adults have the same problem.

If you have four people in your family, and each of you have a phone, then you truly have a family of eight. I believe people look to their phones as a representation of someone, anyone other than those who are around. It’s like this whole other world is happening inside the phone that can’t be missed. It’s scary crazy.

There’s going to be a slew of issues to deal with when we all wake up and realize the damage that is happening right before our eyes. Psychologists are going to have their hands full trying to socialize people to actually interact with each other in-person. Employers are already having a hard time with employees spending excessive amounts of time texting, checking social media, Snapchatting and sending personal emails during business hours. If an employee spends 10 minutes on phone play every hour, over the course of a work year, they have spent almost 9 days on the phone. That’s only one day shy of a two-week vacation. That’s a problem.

Another problem I see arising from all of this is constant access. Respect for time and place is no more. Parents text children during school, children text parents during school, parents call and text their adult children during work, with no regard to the fact that as employees, they should not be on their phone. Most of this stuff can wait. It’s like everyone is in a phone frenzy, but true connections are becoming endangered.

What I feel with the attachment of my phone is that I’m never just in one place as long as the phone is on. For instance, I can be out for a nice dinner with friends, but there are four phones sitting on the table, which means if someone calls or text, then attention is taken from the dinner and given to whomever is on the phone, regardless of who it is or what they want. When are we going to take our quality time back?

It’s just too much. It is stealing our ability to be fully present and engaged in the people, task or even rest at hand. As with anything good that turns into bad, there is a time and a place, boundaries and limits. I don’t know what the solution is. I think it starts with being aware of what is happening and how it affects you, personally. For me, it makes me feel like I can’t focus—that I am constantly juggling too much. It’s all rather exhausting. Get the picture? If so, please try to refrain from putting it on Snapchat.

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