Digital Photographs · 30 October 2021

Digital photographs wreak havoc on the psyche.

I have already written my complaint about digital photographs, but it has hit me square in the jaw again. Digital pictures of loved ones are too real. And they do not fade with time.

Back in the old days, pictures would get discolored with age. They would get a yellow hue to them. Their edges would get beat up with handling if they were not in an album. They would get cracks and creases in them too. In other words, pictures would show their age. And when those pictures showed their age, we would have some idea of how much time had passed since those pictures were taken. Which meant that we would have some reckoning of how much time had passed since our loved ones had passed from this life to the next. Which could also give us a visual indicator of how the pain of losing somebody can diminish with time.

Not so with digital photographs.

Digital photographs do not fade. Rather, they do not fade like the old pictures used to fade. But even if they do fade or get beat up by being handled too roughly or too often, we can just print out a new copy of the same photographs. Just find the pictures on your computer, print them out on quality photo paper, and voilà! New pristine photos of a long lost loved one.

Which brings me back to the psyche.

The psyche is a strange thing. Or maybe it is just me. I look at digital photographs, whether printed or on the computer, and I see my loved ones as they were. Picture perfect. There are no faded pictures anymore. So it seems that those loved ones, especially my parents, are still around. It seems that I ought to be able to reach out and touch them.

Digital video is worse. Seeing and hearing my mom in an interview makes it seem that she is still with us in the flesh. And it will be like that forever since digital video does not fade or crack or loses its fidelity either. Which, like I said, wreaks havoc on my psyche.

I know that part of my problem is that the pain and hurt of losing my mom recently is still raw. Her death still seems unreal. I know that eventually, the pain will subside. I will still miss her and my dad, but the hurt will not be quite as raw. Not quite as painful. Yes, it will take time, but I already know that digital photographs will not help. For they will not fade with time. They will not lose their luster as the pain subsides.

Which brings me back to my original thought. Digital photographs wreak havoc on the psyche. At least they do on mine.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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