Jayne Dawson: Our snap happy habits are messing with the future

Share this article
Have your say

I’ll tell you what worries me: photographs. They’re not as innocent as they seem, you know.

But it’s a good time to have the discussion, since this is a week with a bank holiday in it, and the danger of photographs is ever present at such a time.

All of our traditional bank holiday pursuits could have led to a photograph being taken on Monday: with family and friends; schlepping round the DIY store, mooching dispiritedly round a shopping mall - they can all end in the urge to pull out the camera.

Here is why it matters: we are in danger of revealing too much. In fact, not in danger. That horse has bolted, that train has left the station, that loaf has already risen (the influence of Bake Off is everywhere).

The thing is, we are already revealing far, far too much. Sweet mystery of life? There is none.

And I’m not even thinking about us, now, in the present. I’m thinking about our legacy. Every year, the number of photographs taken increases monumentally. There is not a moment unrecorded.

It means that future generations will inherit a big, chaotic mess. What will they do with all those pointless, meaningless photographs stored on memory sticks, clogging up computers and floating around in digital space?

What we inherited was so much better. A few treasured photographs stuck into an album, tantalising glimpses into faces and times past. They tell us a little, but not too much.

It means our forebears have a dignity, a gravitas that renders them fascinating to us. From some generations, only the most momentous moments were recorded. There will be a wedding photograph of a frightened young couple unaccustomed to having their image captured. If we are lucky they will be surrounded by guests so that we are allowed perhaps one fascinating glimpse into the face of a great grandparent.

We can study their composed, serious features, their best clothes, their self-conscious stance and wonder about them and their lives.

Or we might have a picture of our own mother, young and laughing, on a rare teenage trip to the seaside. An occasion when someone, somehow, managed to get hold of the family camera - for in those days there was one camera for the whole family or perhaps none at all.

But we are grateful that one person managed the task because it means we can smile and wonder at her fresh beauty, and admire those great capri pants she is wearing.

Not so with us. Our habit of recording every mundane moment means that future generations will feel no fascination and sense no mystery.

They will not go searching for scraps and clues as to how we lived and thought because the evidence will be overwhelming.

There will be no showing them our best face, the one that previous generations showed to us. They will simply see everything. All of our mundane, silly selves will be spread before them. It will not be a pretty sight. Rather than treasure evidence of the past, our descendants will be grimly trying to fend it off.

So I’m going to let Kate Bush to have the last word. Why not, she’s a woman or rare talent?

Kate, who has not played live for 35 years, is about to embark on a series of sell-out London concerts.

And she has made one plea - she has asked her audience not to stand, stiffly snapping and filming away on their phones, but instead to forget about taking pictures and enjoy the moment instead. She wants her crowd to enjoy themselves - and she is being kind to future generations too.

Please let’s finally say goodbye to this sweet nothing

Call me a crazy, optimistic fool if you like but I am hoping , oh so much hoping , that now The Great British Bake Off has gone completely mainstream, and moved to BBC 1 from the nether regions of BBC2, it will achieve the seemingly impossible.

I want that show, I need that show, to see off see off that big, fat American interloper, the cupcake.

And I am hopeful. Each week Bake Off features lovely British things. The contestants make pies and biscuits and bread.

They labour over cherry cake and swiss rolls and custrad tarts.

This is good, this is all good, because this show is not just baking, not just about crying in front of the oven as your sponge goes all dry and your pastry goes all soggy, it is about us reclaiming our culture.

Because cupcakes - so commonplace for too many years - have nothing to do with the likes of us.

Cupcakes are the American dream, they are mom and pop and white picket fences. We, on the other hand are all about the butterfly bun. I’m hoping the Bake-Off will help us remember that.

Best friends - but there is such a thing as overdoing it

As a teenager, I never tried to dress like my best friend - the practicalities made it impossible. She was four feet ten and a half inches tall and I was five feet seven and a half inches tall.

We already looked ridiculous walking down the street together.

Matching outfits would have made is soo much worse and even though we were only sixteen years old we had the nounce to recognise that.

Instead, my friend wore seven inch platforms and lots of pretty pale blue, and I wore flat shoes and lots of brown. Hang on a minute, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

It’s never really crossed my mind before but, yes, there probably was a reason why she got all the best boys and, yes, it probably does have something to do with that brown/flat shoe combo she encouraged me to wear with such gusto… just off to make a phone call.

Anyway, the point is if even teenagers know that matching outfits are a bad idea, forty-year-old mothers of four should absolutely know it.

But apparently not always. For Victoria Beckham and her best pal Tana Ramsay, wife of sweary chef Gordon, are forever being pictured in the same stuff.

They go to the gym in the same cap/ vest/ leggings/ sunglasses; they attend functions in the same tiny dress, they have even started making the same gestures.

It’s entirely up to them I suppose but I think Tana should know: all the stuff she is wearing - it suits Victoria better.

I have some spare old brown things and flat shoes though if she fancies a change.

CLASSROOM: There are some teachers you never forget.

Blaise Tapp: Today’s teachers need more support