Pictures Matter As Does Context

Pictures Matter As Does Context

Recently I was lying on my bed. From recollection, I was simply pondering my life course as I have done often in recent weeks. When I ponder, I fiddle and fidget.

As I type this I am spinning a pen around my fingers.

Next to my bed, sits a blue and white chest of drawers covered in two piles of books. However, this day, there lay a gun. A black Walther PPK. I picked it up and passed it from hand to hand as I thought. It was half way through this process that my phone received a Snapchat notification. I opened the app and the image that came up on my free terrified me. It wasn’t the image I had received. No, I hadn’t even reached the point of opening that yet.

No, this was the image that flicked up on my screen thanks to the selfie camera on my phone.

It was me. The me on the camera was sat on my bed with my back against the wall staring back at myself. The me on the screen was pushing a gun into my cheek. The gun, of course was a toy. A toy from my childhood and from my love of James Bond. But on the screen, it was black and looked realistic. The image in front of me was the image of my final moments before I squeezed that trigger ever so slightly and ended it all.

Context matters

Whilst I stared at this image before me, I had a twisted thought. What would happen if I made this picture go live?

If I sent that image out and others saw me with a realistic looking gun pushed against my cheek, what would they think? What would they do?

Toy Walther PPK

I wanted to know. So, I sent it. I didn’t send it to everyone. No, I chose a single friend who I discuss many different issues with and sent her the image. After a moment or two, I sent her an additional image showing the gun with its red barrel end, making it obvious that the gun was a toy. Her reaction was still the answer I wanted.

Despite knowing the scene in front of her was fake, she said it was unnerving. Regardless of the content, the image of me with a gun to my cheek was unnerving to her. As undoubtedly, it would have been to all those others I could have sent it to.

Love the image, Suspect the context

I learnt a lesson from this episode. If people had seen that image, they would most likely assume I was going to throw my brains out. After all, that is what it looked like on screen. However, the context for that would have been false. The true context would be what I explained above. I was bored. I was thinking. And I played with a toy gun and out it to my cheek.

Images matter because they define a point in time. They make that image concrete because it could be missed in that split second if not captured by the click of a camera. But surrounding that split second moment is a story. That story tells the context of that split second. When you see an image, always suspect the context being sold to you about it. Investigate the image for yourself so you can learn the true story behind it.

Otherwise, you can make the error all those people who see my image would have jumped to. Context really does matter because context delivers truth.

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