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Facebook Photo Epidemic

social media, social media vocabulary, facebookThe point of this post is simple: to find out the last time you took a photo without someone saying the word ‘Facebook’ within a few seconds of it being taken. This last weekend was Halloween and being around the U-District, there was some crazy outfits to behold. Admittedly, mine may have been among the most extreme, hence this crazy picture of me as a Navi from Avatar.

As my friends and I were walking, I was stopped along the way a number of different times by people wanting to pose with ‘the Avatar guy’. It was really fun and I hope to find some of those photos pop up given that I have no idea who the people were. Anyhow, it was hilarious because every single time I took a photo that night, there was someone shouting out to make sure it would be up on Facebook soon.

This seems to be something of a trend and Facebook is so prevalent in any conversation regarding photos that it leads me to ask if the purpose for which we take photos have changed or if it is just the way we view and follow up with them later that is different. It is estimated that Facebook hosts somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-35 billion photos on its servers. That is pretty amazing considering that in 2008, Facebook announced a photo collection of (just) 10 billion.

Cheaper digital cameras, quality cameras on phones, better interfaces across the board for uploading and tagging photos, and the staggering number of people that now use Facebook are all contributing factors. It seems like the last big thing to hit photos is going to be location tagging as it gets better integrated into Facebook, but that only figures to increase people’s desire to take photos for Facebook.

As the uploads to Facebook continue to skyrocket, there are a few questions that we have to ask ourselves: Are we now taking photos because we know that later we are going to upload and share them on Facebook and we want to be seen? Would we take less photos if it weren’t for Facebook? Are the quality of pictures being degraded for forced photo ops and unoriginal party photos? Are we becoming more narcissistic as a society because of the personal social media outlet we all have access to? And, is the reason there are so many pictures being taken due to better and less expensive and better technology, or the social fulfillment we now have through our social networks? Both?

Maybe the reason doesn’t matter. Most would seem to agree that picture taking is a better experience for having the social element Facebook offers. It is gratifying to have a living place to share your memories with friends that weren’t there, but there are certainly potential downsides when photos get out on the internet.

What is it for you? Has Facebook changed the way you think about pictures or it just your new camera? When was the last time you took a picture and someone didn’t immediately mention it going to Facebook?

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