Take the Camera Off Your Kids.

Keep Baiting Him, Maybe This'll Go Viral.

It’s Rant Time.  Everyone gather around.  Take a break from gazing at the inimitable luster of masters.org and listen to me be mean-spirited for a moment.  I’ll start by saying the death of film has brought on the birth of the picture no one wants to see.

“Hey you got a minute, I snapped 345 shots of Timmy eating his cereal this morning, just scroll through.  It’s that button right there….”

I understand why this happens.  People love their kids.  They love their dogs, cats, friends, cars, and the guy in front of them at Wal-Mart wearing camouflage nut-huggers.  So, they shoot pictures of these things with an unyielding frequency.  Destination: Facebook.  And, really that is the perfect spot for these types of things.  You can get a laugh. You get people telling you how cute your kid is (incredibly satisfying I would imagine), and the pictures stay contained among whatever group of people you have cultivated.  Hey, if someone is your “friend” they should know if you are the type of person who is going to post 23 picture galleries a week of their twin cats, “Chips and Salsa.”  I would never get mad at a Facebook pic, or anything like that.  The intentions, I hope, aren’t so narcissistic.  My problem arises when this impulse to constantly have a camera on your kid mutates into something far less innocent.

I’m watching the news last night, hard to believe, right?  But, I’m watching and they tease a segment about a 3-year old who got his wish to be Governor of New Jersey.  My first thought is: odd wish.  I mean, Jersey?  But, seriously, I was thinking this was going to be some super political prodigy.  A kid who had been drilled on the Constitution since birth and his parents made him memorize senate hearings, one of these precocious kids that learned sign language when they were 4 days old and speaks Mandarin in kindergarten.  That isn’t what I ended up seeing, though.  What I saw was a 3-year old having a temper tantrum in the backseat of a car, screaming, “I want to be Gov-uh-nuh.”  Of course, one of his parents is filming the thing, egging him on, “What do you want to be?”

To this parent, I say, turn the camera off you insufferable a-hole.  Your kid is not a prop to get you on TV, or to get you 1 million views on Youtube, or to meet the Governor of New Jersey.  You see that kid screaming at the top of his lungs while you’re filming (and usually laughing)?  He’s actually upset.  The same thing happened with the kid who loved Michael Young of the Rangers.  Apparently he flipped out when he heard Young might be traded.  So, the natural thing to do for the parents is to recreate the scene on video.  They get the kid all upset about Michael Young again, post the video, and the next thing you know they are in the Rangers dugout during Spring Training.  Mission Accomplished!

It all seems so exploitative and mean-spirited.  Oh, did your dog die today, baby?  What are you going to do, cry about it? Go ahead and cry, baby.  Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha…that’s it, throw in some screams, if we play this right someone will send us 30 Labradoodles.  Maybe the President will give us his dog and we’ll get to go to the White House and if we’re lucky become a trending topic on Yahoo.

I can’t tell you how much I loathe these videos and the more they pop-up the more copycats there will be.  It’s going to snowball right into a nightmare, and there is nothing I can do about it.  So, ignore these videos if you can.  Resist the urge.  And, while you’re at it, maybe a few less pictures of the kid, when they grow up they probably won’t be interested in three hard drives full of the, “awkward years.”


11 thoughts on “Take the Camera Off Your Kids.

  1. this post, in spite of the rantishness factor, is delightfully well said. especially the last paragraph. as if we weren’t a culture of grandiosity and self-indulgence to begin with.

    anyhow…i think you handled to dialect in the kid’s quote really well.

    i could hear it in my mind…the best part of this kid going viral…def not the way the mom “agcked” him on…but that Q has said similar things. over the last year when tired.

    guess that makes her a captivating four year old who should get her way.


  2. If everyone just stuck to watching Masters highlights packages on Youtube we’d be fine.

    It occurred to me yesterday that Youtube is really just the modern incarnation of America’s Funniest Home Videos, except there is no advance screening, and it’s not only the A/V geeks who have camcorders now.

    Finally, I know this isn’t quite the point of your post, but as a self-confessed person who takes way too many digital photos of his daughter: the key is editing. Go ahead and delete the outright blurry and pointless shots, and while you are at it, delete the average and mediocre ones too. You took 100 photos today (actually very easy to do), go ahead and edit that down to the 8-10 best. Doing so will make you look like a decent photographer with a cute kid rather than like an over-obssessed baby-stalker.

  3. The ubiquitous nature of cameras/recording devices has kind of cheapened photography in general for me. No longer is the guy who’s a “professional” necessarily the only one getting a great shot, and more and more it’s becoming random place/time type stuff. There was an interview with the guy who took the iconic photo of Ali knocking out Frazier and standing over him (think i got that right) and he talks about how if you look between Ali’s legs you can see his biggest rival as a photog standing there at the ready. They both had similar spots/angles and were properly prepared, it just so happens he picked the right side to be on-maybe b/c of which hand Ali had the most KOs with, who knows-but reading about it made me think that another reason it’s iconic is NO ONE ELSE had a camera in that vicinity. Today you’d have 450 pics of it, probably time lapsed if you wanted, and probably 15 videos of it. The entire moment is cheapened for me b/c of that.

    • just for the sake of accuracy, it was sonny liston.

      but, i know what you are saying. the rare/uniquely great picture is kind of a thing of the past in some ways.

      but, I still think the chance is out there. At sporting events the pro photogs still have the advantage of location. I’m thinking of Tiger’s ball hanging on the lip at Augusta on that pitch-in, things of that nature.

      Also, i have to say, it is nice to have a camera that anyone can take a good picture with. If this hurts professionals, then I guess that is the downside, but no one wants to be screwing on different lenses, taking light readings, etc.

      • I guess it’s more that when you used to see a great photo you were genuinely in awe. Now they don’t seem as rare.

      • i wonder if TV has played a part in that too.

        like, if you see something live, no matter how great the picture it is going to be less meaningful.

        or, the ability to see a video of anything online now.

        like, would you rather watch that actual knockout, or see that picture.

        back in the day, the pic was your only choice and maybe all you saw of the entire fight.

      • i’m wondering is this debate is parallel to say – pop music and karaoke…sure, anybody can give it a shot (pun intended)…but, the artists (while it is more and more difficulty for gen population to know who they are)…remain the high artists of their time. for instance, anna lebovitz is still gonna have street cred. where my daily Apple Photo Booth is just gonna be…forgetable. except to Q.

        just a thought about this thought…


      • haha…but her work is infamous. right?! would we take success and fame over money? some would. some would… q

  4. i definitely thought of the home videos comparison.

    and, that show was actually funny when it first came on, because things weren’t staged, etc.

    and if you happen to catch your kid doing something funny on camera, that’s great, but i think we’ve gone a bit too far.

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