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To snap or not to snap

Cynthia Mukanzi @cynthia_mukanzi

After the burial of her grandfather, Sylvia Anyango was enraged to find photos of the sorrowful event on social media. A distant relative had taken the photos of his fresh grave and coffin and people in mourning, then posted them on social media.

“She barely knew him, but had the guts to post photos of his coffin and fresh grave. I was so pissed and forced her to take them down,” says Anyango. Anyango says other people even took selfies grinning and shared them online. “That was insensitive and hurtful for those of us who were close to grandpa and understood the pain his death had caused us. I’m not against photos, but I believe we must be cautious and respect the bereaved,” she says.

Technological advancement has birthed the smartphone era that keeps evolving by day. Anybody can snap photos at a click of a button. This obsession has led to serial social media oversharers who document and highlight almost everything from the pointless to the most sensitive and intimate moments.

A week ago, graphic images of a woman giving birth in a hospital corridor burst onto the Internet with hundreds of thousands sharing them across platforms. On countless occasions, photos of people praying in church or mourning the loss of a loved one have surfaced on Facebook or Instagram without their knowledge. The most common practice is that of posting images of other people’s children on social media without checking if it’s appropriate.

You visit a friend who has delivered, and the next thing she sees is a photo of her hours-old baby on social media. Artiste manager Agnes Nonsizi has made it clear to her close friends and family that nobody takes photos of her child.

“In this age of social media frenzy, we need to draw boundaries, which must be respected. Nobody is allowed to take and post photos of my child on any site. There is a lot of danger out here; from child traffickers, paedophiles to abductors,” she says.

Nonsizi made a conscious decision to protect her child from the digital glare. She has never uploaded a photo of her child online. She wants her young one to make his own choices in future when all are grown up. It is important to draw a line, especially when it comes to minors.

Flash photography has been speculated to be risky to newborns’ eyesight, but Dr Fred Kairithia assures it has no adverse effects. “Other than the startling that comes with brightness of the flash, it does not tamper with a baby’s eyesight. The risk, however, could be contamination. Mobile phones are hosts to boundless germs. Handling one while holding a baby at the same time is not advisable,” he says.

It could, however, be a trigger in case an individual has photosensitive epilepsy. “Temporal lobe epilepsy could easily be set off by flash photography. Anyone, from adults to young ones, can suffer from it. The best thing is to ask before taking a picture to avoid such harm,” says Dr Kairithia.

Dr Geoffrey Wango, a sociologist, chips in that people are becoming too preoccupied with themselves for various reasons and are not always necessarily narcissistic. “As human beings, we are always preoccupied with our looks.

One of the four aspects of our self-concept is self-image. We want to look in a particular way in whatever surroundings.” His thoughts are that there is no problem in capturing moments for posterity, but there should be a limit and respect for other wishes of privacy.

“People go to the extreme and misuse the images. In some aspects it could be a matter of low self-esteem and so individuals have to be careful on how they communicate on social media. People need to be talked to about improving their self- image, but also more about taking their self-concept to mean a lot to themselves, not to the outside world,” he says.

He says what we consciously or unconsciously share, how and where we do it speak a lot about who we are. “It says a lot about your pre-held motives, perceptions, prejudices, attitude, emotional milieu and what you think of other people,” he says. It rolls up the curtain on your sense of self-esteem, which could be a search for attention and outward validation.

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