I met an interesting guy a month or two ago. Don't remember his name or anything but he studied something about photography and the publics trust in it. Namely, he said that people tend to take photographs as snapshots of reality, truth on paper as it is. We both agreed that this is true and made small talk of different examples. The basic premise has been bothering me though. What is it that makes photographs so special. Photoshop'ed is now well entrenched in the english language so we clearly know what is going on.

I have to wonder if it is a general tendency to live "inside the box". Be it a television, the boundaries of a photograph, or the lines of thinking drawn by a radio announcer, we have learned as a people to stay within the lines.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a picture and wondered what wasn't included? I don't mean what was photoshopped out but something as simple as what the photographer chose to include within the viewfinder. I went on a ski trip with some friends in Colorado one year and someone went who didn't really enjoy skiing. At one point we posed for a picture half-way up the mountain and she isn't in it because she is 5 feet to our left on the ground and crying in frustration. There is no hint of this though in the picture... except for her absence.

Granted, if you looked at that photograph I wouldn't expect you to to imagine that she was there but the basic premise that ALL of us were having a blast is clearly false.

I can't watch television now because I am all too conscious of how little we are actually told and how much we trust the people who are presenting the information. For instance I just read an article today on bottled water. You might have heard how Pepsi is now going to start labeling its Aquafina bottled water as coming from a "Public Water Source". The article ends by saying as much as 40% of bottled water uses tap water as its source. Sounds all well and good untill you start asking yourself what 40%. Is that a percentage of companies, or a percentage of actual sales. If 40% of bottled water companies use tap water then the actual amount of bottle water sold that is tap water could be anywhere from 90% to 10%, depending on which companies. The point is we don't know.

More to the point, we don't care.

I have wondered if this is a new thing or of it is something more basic. Obviously one could bring out Nazi Germany as a pre-television example. It is also likely that the catholic church was so successful for so long because it was the sole source of communication. So regardless of the urge to think this something to blame on our current environment, this may be something we just have to deal with.

Which begs the question: how have we dealt with it? Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement come to mind as possible times when we thought outside the box. I don't think I know enough about history/culture that be able to answer that well. Any ideas?


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