Video Blogs and the Unexamined Life

I was explaining my book to a woman at a party the other night. Let’s call her Cindy. I explained to Cindy that my book is about using video blogging and journaling for creativity and self-expression. Cindy was a woman in her early thirties but wasn’t super familiar with YouTube, video blogs or the general vlogging phenomenon. I explained the difference between keeping a public video blog or a private video journal. “Video can be like therapy. It’s powerful to sit down in front of a camera and express yourself.” I told her.

“I have to be honest.” She said. The whole concept is really very disturbing.”

I must admit at first this gave me an inner chuckle that I suppressed out of politeness and because Cindy LOOKED upset. I’m not saying everyone “gets” my book, but I had never had that kind of reaction before. I was curious to know more.

“I mean I get creeped out when I see myself on a TV monitor in a store.” She told me. “It feels so intrusive.”  Wow.  I pressed her a little bit more, but I didn’t know her well enough to push it too far. I mean this seemed to be about something deeper than being camera shy. I also felt that maybe my book could really help her if she was willing to give it a chance.

Is video “intrusive”? Yes it can be intimidating to face a lens, and maybe this is part of it. But for someone who doesn’t like to be on camera, perhaps is almost a bit phobic about it, it MUST feel intrusive to walk past the myriad video cameras she passes in daily life.

In “Naked Lens” I talk about the imagined audience – who or what we imagine on the other side of the lens. I believe this is a large part of what creates our feeling of comfort or discomfort. Either what Cindy consciously or unconsciously imagines is hostile – or the fact that she unable to imagine anything and therefore can’t see “who” is watching her (I’m thinking of a void) throws her into a place of fearfulness and vulnerability.

There is no doubt that video will keep growing in its presence in daily life. There are two issues here. One is that of privacy which is an important, but separate concern. The second that applies to Cindy is one of ease and comfort. I believe it will become increasingly important to be comfortable on camera. People who feel as Cindy does will be at a definite disadvantage and will be more and more often be placed in situations they perceive as unsafe.

My opinion is that anyone with a camera phobia could stand to gain a lot from beginning to keep a video journal. Journaling would open an opportunity to create a safe space to slowly and carefully explore their fears. If there fears were severe, they could even explore them with the help of a therapist. I firmly believe that these fears are not just about the camera itself, but deeper issues which I’m sure are different for each individual.

Whatever the case, as a famous Greek philosopher by the name of Socrates once said. “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

In other words: feel the fear and do it anyway.


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