A number of weeks ago I blogged about the brand-new GoPro Hero3+ and the human desire to achieve more, do more, be more. 60 Minutes has taken notice of GoPro, too. As much as I'd like to think that Anderson Cooper read this blog, the billion dollar industry that GoPro has established probably speaks for itself.
As Cooper says, it's the perfect camera for a self-obsessed generation. Now that we have cameras on our phones, we're never without the possibilty of documenting where we are, what we're doing, and letting the world know how much fun we are. Google Glass is basically the GoPro on steroids, but they don't have the massive vault of footage and real-live "proof" that their gadget can make you look so extreme/clever/daring/courageous/heroic (and maybe way more than you really are).
Camera phones, Google Glass, GoPros. They're wonderful inventions that illuminate this need for so many humans to be on display. "Look at me!!!," is essentially what the photo and video posters are saying. It's like we regress to our inner four-year-old who constantly requests the attention and affirmation of others, "look at me twirl!", "look at me jump!", "look at me in my pirate suit!", "look at me throw sand!"
This is a gross generalization, of course. Some of the stuff that people are capturing with their capable cameras is truly remarkable, and I really, really enjoy watching it. The good stuff and the banal stuff point to a human need for recognition, to be noticed, to be counted worthy. This desire might not manifest itself in everyone by the need for posting selfies and GoPros videos, but it's in just about every one of us.
And it's not bad. Shoot, we were made in the image of God. Humans really are glorious, and most of us know it - at least about ourselves. Oh, we might struggle mightily with a hideous self image, or some form of neurosis or crippling PTSD, but we ARE glorious, and it's in us to want to receive some sort of recognition for that. And for those of us who absolutely cannot believe there is glory in us, it's probably a deep longing for which we hope secretly.
Sure this innate glory can get horribly confused with ego, and unfortunately a good chunk of selfies and selfy videos highlight this confusion. How many times have you wanted to complain about a Facebook friend for posting yet another photo of their dinner, or uploading an entire vacation album so that you are subjected to 150 crappy pictures instead of the eight good ones that offer a nice summary? With all this media out there it's easy to get annoyed at others for "wasting my time" with the less-than-perfect submissions. Another's ego (or less-refined social media skills) can become my own ego trip. It's so easy to shed all that glory and simply become selfish, self-absorbed, and petty.
In addition to showcasing our innate gllory, there is another other glorious aspect of the GoPro and instant camera availability: it cure does increase opportunities for creativity. A number of theologians have suggested that the crux of the "Imago Dei," or being made in the image of God, is the human capacity to create. God the Creator enabled humand to create, too, and so engage in divine work.
To be sure, some work that is done by amateur camera phone enthusiasts, and GoPro dabblers certainly teeters on the divine. As Nick Woodman, GoPro CEO, said in the 60 Minutes interview that these cameras allow the average person to capture what only professionals could in the past. Instead of requiring exceedingly costly equipment and extra people to use the gear to capture footage, one person can now document some amazing feats - all on their own, with a $400 camera and a few accessories. And, as a person who's been in a lot of commercial videos, the editing itself can be glorious.
Examples I like:
Paragliding with your eagle (this is the same guy who strapped his camera onto the eagle; that video has over 6million views)
And, to show how easy it is, today I got my cat in the action (alas, it's shot on the "old" original GoPro Hero). This video took less than two hours to set up, shoot, and edit. Daisy's quick adventure:
We have a lot to be thankful for in this GoPro world. We can share in other's experiences, see things we'd otherwise not see, glory in the Imago Dei, push the boundaries of artistic limits.....and yes, be completely self-absorbed. Light and shadow: it's in us all, and on display everyday in our selfies and GoPro videos on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, the revamped MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, and others. We can't seem to get enough of our glorious selves.