Living In High Definition

HDTV pundit and blogger Phillip Swann has a running set of posts on how celebrities and news folks (mostly women, mind you) were ‘holding up’ under the harsh, unforgiving lens of High Definition Television. From Caneron Diaz to Brad Pitt, Mr. Swann has catalogued the stars’s blemishes as revealed by the unflattering resolution of HDTV.

Whenever anyone is scrutinized at high resolution, it seems, all their flaws are revealed. Take, for instance the recent story of the lawsuit plantif who claimed his car accident injuries were so bad that it was dramatically diminishing his lifestyle. An in-court examination of his Facebook page revealed current photos of the very activities (pool playing in his case) that he claimed were lost to him due to whiplash from the accidents.

This story is repeated time and again… I was recently asked to take down some pictures I’d posted on Facebook. The images themselves, while reasonably tame, were taken at a birthday party and consequently generated unwelcome questions and comments for the guest of honour by some co-workers. There are still more stories about lost job opportunities as potential employers find unflattering posts and pics of prospects through routine Googling. In one case of which I have personal knowledge, a job applicant negotiating a salary unknowingly lost thousands of dollars in yearly income when a manager read of the prospective employee’s enthusiasm for the job opportunity… On the applicant’s personal blog, no less.

This high resolution look at our second selves, the images and thoughts expressed of our ‘private’ lives are increasingly being publicized, logged, catalogued and recorded for our digital posterity (blog, by the way, is short for ‘Web log’).

This publicity of our other lives has had an unintended consequence… It is shifting and blurring our sense of what is deemed appropriate behavior. As a rather macro example, the past two and current sitting Presidents of the United States have all been shown to have engaged in some form of drug use, from a President that ‘didn’t inhale‘ a joint, to a President that very much inhaled cocaine, to the current President who reportedly continues to engage in one of today’s most heinous taboos: smoking cigarettes.

The high resolution images of who we are, while at times unflattering, seems to be making us more tolerant of our individual flaws and blemishes as society’s taboos are revealed as more and more common facts of today’s lifestyles.

With a single snap of a web-connected celphone camera, society’s closet-bound skeletons – and we’re all said to have them – are shown the light of day, and we’re being forced to reconcile them against our own, equally exposed pasts under the harsh, indiscriminate lens of today’s pervasive paparazzi.

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