By: Mitali Chaudhary
There is no doubt that, in this age of information and technology, the ease with which anyone with a smartphone can immortalize moments through video and photography is one of our most influential achievements.
The now ridiculously effortless step of sharing our content with the entire world is the truly amazing feat, however, as attention can be quickly brought to important social issues, ideas can be sent across the globe, and extremely cute cat videos can be giggled over with friends.
But such forms of media can often do more harm than good. The act of taking and sharing a single photo in an inappropriate context may result in personal privacy issues, given the number of people who can potentially view it and interpret it in different ways.
This is especially relevant in light of a recent video of a woman who missed her ferry in Victoria, British Columbia and had a breakdown at the terminal. A bystander filmed her entire tirade, then posted it on the “Spotted in Victoria” Facebook page. It took off from there, becoming viral and accumulating thousands of likes and shares.
But we can’t forget about the impact this had on the woman. By exposing her moment of stress to the entire world, she was, to some degree, stripped of her privacy. As videos and photos show only specific moments of a person’s behaviour, usually in awkward or unbecoming circumstances, it’s almost impossible to bring their situation into context.
It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and judge the individual from the minute-long YouTube video than it is to analyze the reasoning behind their display of distress. In this case, her missed ferry could have meant missing a dying loved one, or an important dinner. This lack of context caused her feelings to be further trivialized, by the bystander himself, as the video’s accompanying description read “she had a little temper tantrum,” as if she were a toddler who has them often, and isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Everyone feels flustered in an out-of-control situation. Why mock them by recording and sharing their plight with the whole world?
This is only one among many questions that have risen along with this trend of capturing and sharing images and videos without consent. Where is the line between funny and creepy when it comes to recording someone’s awkward situation? How many views does a video have to get to start infringing on the subject’s privacy? And when is taking a photo taking it too far?