Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Digital Cameras As Mirrors

My little angel, not even two yet, is fully aware of what a camera is.  She even poses and wants to see the picture right away.  She knows it's her.  But she was also eager to see the crow pictures.  And she likes how you can zoom in and see details.

I'm a little creeped out about this.  She also thinks nothing of Skype.  It's natural to her.  Totally normal.  But then so were phones for me.  Though my mother took a long time to get over her childhood lessons that long distance calls were expensive, even when they became  inexpensive.

It got me to wondering how people reacted when mirrors first started being available.  Did they worry about how kids used them?  How adults used them?  Was there concern about vanity?  I suspect it's like digital cameras today.  Some people love them and don't think about the kinds of questions I'm raising.  Others wonder how much time kids should be playing with these things.  Others use them as babysitters - just handing the devices to tiny kids so kid won't fuss while they do other things.  I understand the temptation as I spend long time periods with my angel.  I'm 'the device' my daughter is using to distract her child with.

I'm not terribly worried about moderate use.  My parents didn't think mirrors were any big deal and I'm sure they delighted in my first encounters with them and recognizing myself.  In some way the popularity of selfies suggests that many people aren't self conscious of how they look.  But I suspect that there is a sizable part of the teenage population that dreads friends with cameras on their phones.

I was going to leave it like this - just some notes in reaction to what I'm seeing.  But I did take a quick look at what the internet has to offer on this topic.  It's depressing how many websites there are now that hire people to write short facile answers to every conceivable question, like "What is the history of mirrors?"  And they show up right at the top of searches.  From my early blogging experiences,  I know there's a market for people willing to write such breezy answers to get people to look at the ads that surround the posts.  Finding the meat is getting harder.  But they all say that mirrors go back thousands of years.

I did find one longer post at SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) that looked at the impact of mirrors from a lot of different perspectives - age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.  This snippet has relevance to my interest in this:
Children: Female dissatisfaction with appearance – poor body-image – begins at a very early age. Human infants begin to recognise themselves in mirrors at about two years old. Female humans begin to dislike what they see only a few years later. The latest surveys show very young girls are going on diets because they think they are fat and unattractive. In one American survey, 81% of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once. A recent Swedish study found that 25% of 7 year old girls had dieted to lose weight – they were already suffering from 'body-image distortion', estimating themselves to be larger than they really were. Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls (some as young as 6) thought they were too fat. Even normal-weight and underweight girls want to lose weight."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.