I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours.

Something occurred to me recently, I’m hearing the phrase  ‘pictures or it didn’t happen’ more and more. As a writer this concerns me slightly. Are our precious words being left behind as we start to think in images? I have purposely left images out of this blog post. Can you cope?  Thought so, but read on anyway…..

Lately people can’t seem to just believe their ears, they need to see it with their eyes.  Millions of pictures are shared over the internet daily. Pictures are shared via email, sms, and people of all ages share photographs instantly. It’s not age specific.

When the news came last week that Facebook had bought Instagram, I have to say I wasn’t unduly surprised. Well before the Instagram acquisition, Facebook were placing a lot of relevance on images. Sites like Reddit and IMGUR have millions of daily visitors, our internet is so image heavy. With so many sites crying out for our attention, if we can be caught and moved by a single image, it can speak a thousand words.

Facebook knows you’d rather see pretty pictures. Facebook has been doing it’s homework.  If most people are honest, when using Facebook, it is the photos that they are drawn to first. I’ve always said Facebook works because, at your finger tips you have a varied range of photographs of all the people you know. And while it may seem a little disturbing, your friends can, and will, flick through your pictures as they wish, when they wish.  Facebook knows we like to look at pretty pictures, pretty people and pretty things. You may notice that when you upload a picture it will immediately go into your home feed. If a few people like it, it is kept at the top and you will notice a fluffy of activity until interest wanes. This pushes your written statuses further down the homefeed.

As a writer, understanding how people communicate is always going to fascinate me. NLP floats my boat because, well used, it achieves great results. I love the psychology that we all interpret things in different ways and when understanding this we can adapt them for the better. NLP works on the principles that we process and use language via the base senses, sight, sound and feeling and this enforces our behaviour. Without going too deep into it, if you think of these three sentences ‘I like the sound of that’, ‘I like the look of that’ and ‘that feels good’  you will see our predominant sense peppers our language. We are usually a variation of all three in varying levels, I’m one of those odd ones that are an almost exact ratio of all three. This basically means I am a genius and you should give me all your money (just checking you are paying attention) instead it means I process my information via all three channels equally.  When you apply this to the internet you notice that as it’s a visual aid, of course we want to SEE things. While the internet has the auditory processers, the podcast fans, the spotify users, the majority of internet users are image processers. So therefore it makes clear sense to supply to demand.

I like applying this thought to the love of images. As humans our sight is our most advanced sense, paramount to our survival,  maybe not in a ‘gorillas in the mist’ way anymore as we have obviously evolved. But we have other senses and while we are so busy watching could we be missing other things?

I just skipped the gap of having a mobile phone at high school, nowadays it is common for teenagers to have phones and be able to share images instantly. I regularly get emails from friends containing images, pictures of their children or something funny, and it is now part and parcel of dating to share pictures of yourselves. New hair, new coats, dressed up to go out, new underwear etc ( ‘What? I didn’t say anything, shut up!). Mobile phones give you the chance to say immediately, this is my life, right now, look, look this is it, see?  There’s no wait, there’s no anticipation. It takes away the ‘real’ a little from life. Mobile phones have added to our lives massively but also with some detriment. We are a society chained to our phones. We expect our texts answered immediately. (Meh, it’s a Karlie thing) I have two mobile phones and am infamous among my friends for being on them. It’s a little known fact that sometimes, (okay twice this year) when I know I am not needed, I switch my main one off. I like doing it for a few days but my work and family being as it is, I cannot disappear for too long. Sometimes I don’t want to check emails, texts, I don’t want to see and I don’t want to look, (Meh, it’s a visual thing) I just want to be. During my Facebook abstinence I quickly adapted to not knowing what everyone was up to all the time, and not telling them what I was doing. I have a theory with social media that it has made Andy Warhol’s prediction that ‘everyone will all be famous for 15 minutes’ come true. We are all mini celebrities in our own right. We all have our time in the spotlight, whether it be some crazy status we update, tweet we send or image we upload.  Now with fancy image filters we will look even more fabulous!

As a writer and lover of words and conversations, it’s strange to note that we are fast becoming a world of images, our eyes are processing these images faster then we can read.  My Blog Guru is not happy if I leave out images. And it’s true, the more images you have in a blog the more likely you are to have better traffic. Words on their own are boring. The internet is no place for boring, the internet is sexy and slick and words are not sexy (though they can be slick). Think of infographics and you will note that even our graphs have become more image based. You have to wonder where this will leave writing and reading? Not now, but in the future. Clearly, words won’t disappear over night. Could you imagine that? We have no words…….. but we have cute cats!! Yay!!

But, seriously, I think it’s definitely an observation worth noting. And, oh boy if you made it this far without switching off to look at cat pictures, go and get yourself a cool Ribena, you deserve it! Mwah mwah xx (Meh, it’s a Susi thing)

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