Connected or Disconnected? Is the notion of capturing ‘memories’ vanishing today?

Have we all become so completely connected that we have actually become completely disconnected?

It’s an interesting question to ponder, particularly for those of us that enjoy a true fondness for photography, as we get set to welcome in 2015. While the news that people are taking more pictures than ever, and have been for many years now, is exciting, it’s also a bit troubling that the notion of capturing memories today is more about simply recording moments and not so much about truly experiencing them anymore.

Back in the day, and I’m not traveling back further than a decade or so, capturing life’s precious moments wasn’t about recording them to simply say we were there. It was more about being engaged in that moment and the photo was a means by which we could someday fondly recall that moment.

There is strong evidence now however, that in today’s mobile world we are recording moments simple for the sake, of…well, recording the moment. Stills and videos are posted to social network sites with a quick “look where I am” mention and it’s on to the next “look where I am” moment.

It appears, for many folks today, the definition of real memories versus mere moments has gotten lost in the mobile shuffle.


“I think a lot of it has to do with the need people feel today to document everything they experience,” responded New York-based photographer, Jim Cummins, when we asked him for a comment for this piece. “Back in the day when we would capture only the most special moments, it was easier to handle and manage your memories. When you are documenting what you ate for lunch and the latte you’re having at Starbucks, it is simply blurring the lines between special memories and mundane moments and yes, to a certain extent, smartphone tech and social media are at the heart of this.”

While hardly a new dilemma, it does appear as though it gained some significant steam in 2014, as Yahoo tells us that nearly 1 trillion photos were snapped this past year – equal to a quarter of all the photos snapped in the first 170 years of photography’s existence. Wow! Let’s not even get into what percentage of those were probably selfies…ugh.

Self Expression Era

Smartphone Selfies

Okay, so perhaps this is simply how people are expressing themselves today, caught up in this era of visual content creation. Pointing-and-clicking today is about expressing individuality, through our images. It’s not that the memory doesn’t matter, it’s just that this kind of photography is more about self expression ….right?

Perhaps these are “memories” after all, and for this generation maybe everyday is memorable. And despite the fact some folks may be overdoing the moment-to-moment documentation, they certainly appear happy, even excited taking all these pictures.

Totally connected or completely disconnected is not yet fodder for anyone to really determine just yet, I suppose. I just hope all the images my kids are capturing have some value to them 30 years from now….that is, if they ever get them off their smartphones.

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AuthorMichael McEnaney

I am a veteran technology journalist with over 20 years experience covering consumer electronics and imaging tech as well as launching, editing/writing content, selling and marketing a variety of publications and websites. Most recently I helped NAPCO launch the network of consumer tech websites and also helped launch the popular tech website as well as launching his own website at that covers all consumers can do with their digital images and videos after they’ve captured them. My true passion has always been photography – both capturing life’s most precious moments as well as covering the pros that capture the world.

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