In my book “see my book” and this blog I have explored the simulacrum as a vivid replica of reality rather than reality itself and the confusion that causes and all the consequences that entails. Recently, we have seen instances where this confusion has turned upside down and has become criminal.
Earlier blogs explored “the selfie” and its ramifications, particularly for the young. Newer apps have expanded the purview of the Selfie. Periscope, Meerkat and Snapchat allow users to live stream their videos. In at least two cases recently, crimes such as rape and corruption of minors have been recorded by someone who allowed the fore-mentioned crimes to proceed while they recorded and streamed them live. Two such cases have been brought before the courts and the accused face possible prison time if convicted.
Reporters have historically faced the moral dilemma when photographing or filming war, riots, etc. Do they continue filming or do they intervene? Today, almost everyone is equipped with a camera that takes both stills and videos. The moral dilemma is now upon us all.
The young believe everything must be photographed. “Something only becomes real if it is recorded in some way.”, is often quoted as the reason for such excess of recording. Thus the simulacrum (the photo or the video) becomes the real when looked upon, as opposed to the real event which lacks veracity when simply lived. Taking pictures on vacation is a bit like this, keeping the real alive in pictures to be viewed later. But in this long tradition, the picture is known as simply a prompt, a reminder. (I explore in my book and earlier blogs the issue of travel brochures being taken as the reality of travel destinations, and when the traveler goes to said destinations they want to visit the pictures. If the real vacation is not the brochure, the vacation is often deemed a disappointment.)
The picture, the video, the simulacrum as a truer reality is now pervasive among us all, particularly the young who have grown up with social media and everyone having a camera. The pocket phone is now almost more universally used as a camera and message sender than as its original purpose, making or receiving a phone call. The powerful need to record a moment so that one can re-live it even more powerfully as a picture or video is seductive, dangerous and almost psychologically perverse. This transmutation deserves deeper analysis than this short blog can avail. That one girl would video and live stream the rape of her friend rather than being outraged and intervening is a mind-boggling change of behavior created by technology. Our machines are warping us. This is but one compelling example.
That simulacra (which all photos and videos are) should evolve from accepted replication to more scintillating alter reality is a distress call. When pictures and phantasies are taken as more real, madness is upon us. Social media has become dangerous. When crimes are recorded without compunction, simulacra have become criminal.
Add the next revolution of VR where simulated reality surrounds you….add the ever improving CGI in movies that makes anything imaginable seem totally real….and the ever finer line between reality and imitation is shrinking if not gone. You now have the makings of a sensory shift that is both technical and existential….and dangerous.
THE SIMULACRUM RULES !!