Published in The Great North Arrow, September 2019: Respect And Responsibility

by jim Young

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

I have over 46,000 digital pictures on my hard drive. That doesn’t include many that I have saved to DVD. 

I also have albums and shoeboxes filled with hundreds of old black and white and colour photos that had to be developed before digital cameras were invented.

Safely stored away somewhere in one of my closets is a box that contains a few hundred feet of old 8mm and Super 8mm home movies.

Almost everyone today has a digital camera or a camera phone and moments that were once only filed away in our memories are now readily available to share, not only with family and friends, but the whole world.

Who is ever going to see even a small percentage of all these moments in time that we seem obsessed with capturing?

Gone are the days when you might take one or two pictures because taking more was expensive and a waste of the precious 12, 24 or 36 picture limit on your camera’s film.

Gone are the days when you had to wait a week or more to have your pictures developed once the film was full, only to discover that one special picture you were really looking forward to seeing was underexposed or blurry.

A do-over was not an option. 

There is, however, a cost for the ability to take as many photos as we want whenever and wherever we want. That cost is the invasion of our privacy.

One can no longer reasonably expect to go anywhere in public today without the possibility of having their likeness captured in a digital image and appearing somewhere online.

Music concerts and theatrical shows that once banned cameras from being brought into the venue have no hope in preventing recording devices that are part of most cell phones at their performances even though recording such events without the performers’ permission is still illegal.

Last year when My Shirley was being airlifted from the North Bay Hospital to the Sudbury Hospital the

pilot of the ORNGE helicopter invited me to take some closeup pictures. His only request was that he would not appear in any of the pictures.

The pilot told me he had once landed on the highway to pick up the victim of a traffic accident and later learned that videos of his rescue had been posted to YouTube even before he had arrived at the hospital with his patient.

Who’s to say the online video was not how a close family member might have first learned of their loved one’s accident?

In 1795  Sir William Curtis said that the basics of a good education are the “3 Rs - Readin’, ‘Ritin’ & ‘Rithmetic.”

To that I think we need to add two more Rs - “Respect & Responsibility”.

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