The perils of technology meet the perils of humanity


If technology seems soulless and dispassionate, well, it is. It doesn’t laugh or cry, and it certainly doesn’t get embarrassed. On the other hand, it can very well make us laugh and cry, and there is no question that it can embarrass us. Like this example, from the Seattle Times website:

Image captured from Seattle Times website, July 2, 2008.It’s a simple enough pitch, and hardly uncommon. Many news websites offer prints of dramatic photos, and often use galleries with names like “Photos of the Day” to promote the service. And in many cases, you can get reprints of articles or your favorite political cartoons. But there is something amiss about the pitch, which I snapped in the wee hours of the morning. Something seems incongruent about the sunny invitation to “Capture a memory and own a moment” compared to the image detail. Indeed, the photo it refers to—

Relatives mourn Abdul Ghani Shiekh, an 85-year-old man killed during clashes, in Budgam, a town 19 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Srinagar, India, Tuesday, July, 2008. Authorities in Indian-held Kashmir made concessions to Muslim activists Tuesday in hopes of quelling heated protests that have left five dead and hundreds injured.  (Dar Yasin/AP)

—is from Dar Yasin, via the Associated Press, and is captioned as follows:

Relatives mourn Abdul Ghani Shiekh, an 85-year-old man killed during clashes, in Budgam, a town 19 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Srinagar, India, Tuesday, July, 2008. Authorities in Indian-held Kashmir made concessions to Muslim activists Tuesday in hopes of quelling heated protests that have left five dead and hundreds injured.

Yes, here’s a picture of you that went around the world as you wept for poor Abdul. I saw that I could get a print of it from the website and thought, “My goodness, she would probably be delighted if I put that one on a coffee mug for her!”

Capture a moment, indeed. So I did. I couldn’t help myself. It’s just one of those unfortunate moments that technology occasionally brings. (Or did someone have to choose that detail specifically?)

As to the violence in Budgam, or anywhere else? Well, shit. Very unfortunate, but that should go without saying.

Or maybe not. But I can’t imagine that saying it over and over and over and over again is actually going to stop the killings. And that’s perhaps the most unfortunate thing of all.

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