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Opinion

iPhone camera addiction leads to one angry, expensive Cloud

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March 29, 2017

As with most people, my cell phone has seemingly become permanently affixed to my hand. My oversized phone, clad in a glittering case, is just an extension of myself these days. I can hardly remember what I used to do with my hands in the dark days before I had an iPhone to hold.

My aching thumbs are also not the only part of me that have to bear the burden of carrying around my constant companion. The feeling of a sometimes crushing obligation I feel to document my life in photo and video form is a heavy weight to endure, as well.

I realized I might have a problem when, very recently, that big glittering rectangle I usually have clutched in my left hand dinged at me. This ding did not notify me of the latest text in a conversation completely comprised of Disney-themed gifs, however. Instead, it was to let me know that my iCloud storage was full.

If I had not trained myself to keep a firm grip on my phone at all times, I would have dropped it right onto the floor in shock. Not only was all of the storage used up in my phone, of which I have the biggest option available, the extra iCloud storage that I had to buy each month had reached capacity.

In my head, I saw a bulging cloud, bursting at the seams with the many of thousands of pictures inside it. Each picture’s sharp corners were stabbing through the fluffy cloud’s snowy exterior into the gloomy, digital cyberspace in which my overflowing cloud floats.

The “camera roll” on my phone, so called because of the rolls of film that existed in the time before iPhones walked the Earth, currently contains almost 9,000 photos and videos. That’s 9,000 images of stuff I felt compelled to take a picture of, to have lasting visual proof of.

Most of these images I have not looked at or used since that initial capture. Many of them I cannot bear to delete even though I do not revisit them or need them for any real purpose. The others are reiterations of the same shot in the pursuit of getting a single image cast in the best light and from the best angle. Selfies take a lot of dedication, okay?

I love my iPhone, or so I tell it, lest I should anger it and then have it come to life and attack me as I lay innocently asleep just inches from it at night. I love it, but always having a camera at the ready is creating a big problem.

I do not think I can differentiate between needing to capture an important life moment from just capturing a moment of no consequence anymore. I really do not think it is necessary for me to take a picture of every latte I have, but I find myself doing it nonetheless. Now, I must pay the price, and I mean seriously pay because my options are to delete or upgrade, and I have proven I cannot rise to the simple task of getting rid of pictorial clutter.

Back when camera rolls were actually camera rolls that turned into printed, physical pictures, people had to think about what they needed to get a picture of. There was no space to take over and over again the same picture in pursuit of photo worthy of a carefully curated Instagram feed, partially because Instagram is a pretty recent thing and was not around in the days of these early versions of camera rolls.

In an effort to avoid solving my problem of photo storage, I thought about what my future could possibly look like if I did not stem the amount of images I snapped with my overworked thumbs. I still saw myself grasping at a cell phone with one of my hands, but I also saw myself caught in a storm of digital pictures that glinted and swirled all around my future self in an obscuring and pixelated tornado.

Learning to un-train myself of the habit of grabbing a picture of every little innocuous moment in my life will be a chore. However, just thinking of the amount of digital evidence I will accumulate if I do not curb this addiction is a far more nightmarish thought for me.

From here on out, I plan on reminding myself that just because I did not take a picture, that does not mean that nothing happened.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.