Uninvent Your Camera

For its series “Uninvent This,” The New Yorker asked writers to discuss what they wished had never been invented. Answers covered everything from technology to mundane objects to concepts. In that same spirit, what would you uninvent, and how would your life—and the world—be different without it?


Photos freeze the world in place for just a moment. In the rapidly moving world, it’s refreshing to look at a photo, stop the earth’s spin, and live in the past for a few minutes. Photos are sentiments—souvenirs of a time and place that has passed. It’s comforting to hold them and peer into the eyes of whoever was just captured in celluloid. Photos belong in frames, on walls, in homes, on refrigerators, or wherever they can be appreciated. I think photos have no better habitat than pinned to a bulletin board with a little sharpie writing on the white space beneath.

Sadly though, this important souvenir has changed. Ever since the first digital cameras were brought into the household, it’s been easier than ever to take a picture. From the tiny blue digital camera that every mother owns, to the iPhone that can be found in the palm of every high schooler, it’s easier than ever to take a picture—so easy that one can accumulate ten or twenty pictures in a single day and not remember one of them. While digital cameras make picture taking far easier, the ease takes the joy out of the picture; photography becomes trivial. There is no cost for film—no end to the digital pictures. With the ease of digital cameras, the pictures that...

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