As the mobile phone evolves, so has our ways of co-existing in the world. We are now capable of moving through the streets without having to actually acknowledge the strangers that surround us, the array of interesting smells or the telephone pole coming up a few metres in front of you. It also allows us to manage our presence with a click of the finger, contradicting the proverb “I can’t be in two places at once”. And at the same time making our literal presence known to the world through social media forums #lolstudyingatthelibrary. And from these powers that the portable electronic companion gives, our understanding of the public and private space changes, and the barrier between the two become blurred. The results of what comes from our interaction with mobile devices can be seen as both positive and negative.
I can see plenty of advantages that Our iphone gives (not everyone owns this brand but c’mon, it is the universal symbol for a mobile).
- It’s a comforting tool for times when you are navigating your way through an unfamiliar and strange territory, like building 19, and need to notify friends you most likely will be late so please offer your empathy or guidance.
- You can contact the ones you love that are absent due to geographical distance, with a call or message.
- Connect with friends and family through the moments you capture and share through social media.
- Relive treasured moments through apps like ‘On this day’ that spark nostalgic feels.
- Strengthens confidence in voicing ones identity publicly, as there is an element of control in what way it is revealed.
Suddenly the public and private space morph into one. I will focus now a little more on the advancing technology of cameras and how it is changing personal life moments. A study conducted by Dong-Hoo Lee, ‘Mobile Snapshots and Private/Public Boundaries‘, is based on photo taking practices and internet practices. It discusses the privatisation of public space or “publicly private”, and how these days people can digitally document their lives. The camera phone has the ability to make every event and experience in public places an object of personal photography. Intimate occasions such as an engagement, a first date, the birth of a child and a family christmas, are recorded and shared to people like our friends and family, creating a shared ‘intimate visual co-presence’.
A reflection of a persons life is open to the semi-public, like friends and family, however the internet platforms on which they express themselves on can also be accessed by the general public. You now become subject to judgement, releasing personal information to complete strangers. An element of fear comes into play, because the meaning of private now becomes a little ambiguous. An article by Paul Greenberg bundles this into a nutshell, ‘Private moments now public spectacles‘. Because people, although a little naive to consider who exactly will view the content they release online, are aware that plenty will have access, so now the rawness and authenticity of a moment is at risk a premeditated expression is a result. Greenway (2000) explains, ‘so accustomed have we become to watching and being watched, till we cannot tell the difference between acting and being’.
And so yes there are always going to be issues that arise from any device that changes the reality in which we live. But the mobile phone’s use in the public/private sector does avoid the ingrained fear of loneliness, and encourages self expression.
To top off this post with a cherry on top, here is a photograph of an infamous “insta selfie” posted on christmas day. Because we were thousands of km apart from our extended family and friends, we used a camera phone to give people a glimpse into what our special day looked like. By using a photo of myself and my sister, my job of respecting peoples dignity with ethical practices was made easy and simple. My sister was made aware that this photo was going to be posted on my blog, and because she is a fan of the photo, had no problem with it at all. There are no strangers included in the photo (mostly because I would much rather a view of mountains as a back drop), so it cancels out having the responsibility of protecting the privacy of multiple pupils.