How Smartphones are breaching privacy of Kashmiri weddings

The wedding pictures clicked in a second, reach almost the whole of Kashmir in a minute.

Kashmir is a small society. Here everyone knows everyone else, either directly or indirectly. At times, it feels, as if it is a big family living in separate houses now. This shared connection found in our society has both its pros and cons. It could be argued that there may be more pros but cons are making the situation worrisome.

Our shared relations at times get out of our hands. And we get so much into sharing anything with everyone that the pious institution like marriage becomes a fragile target of this. It is not out of the box to argue that for quite a few years our weddings are becoming more of regular invention ceremonies.

The inventions are not just worse but pathetic. Take, for instance, the case of smartphones and how it’s acting as a tool for privacy breaches. Though surely smartphones are not our ‘wedding inventions’, this tool is being used by us during our weddings as a multi-tasker tool. And while doing so, we hardly fathom what we are heading towards.

It is not just weddings but pre-wedding functions as well that are a target of this small gadget. There is no doubt that this gadget has made it easy for us to capture memories and moments and maybe cherish them for a long time, but is it only just that?

Is having a smartphone only about clicking pictures, recording videos, etc? Do we even take a moment to give it a thought? Is it cherishing that people at weddings (some of whom we might not even know) have smartphones in their hands, and they go on roaming upside down and record everything they wish to?

Weddings no longer seem a function to be enjoyed the way they should be. It is no more about a bride or a groom entering a tent and siblings, friends, and cousins hugging them or elders repeatedly giving the best of the best supplications. Now, it is only about their entrance and our hands in our pockets searching for our phones. The pictures which are clicked in a second, reach almost the whole of Kashmir in a minute.

This is not to say that we can’t click and record with them. Let’s click a few pictures but then can we act as a responsible sibling, friend, or elder by not randomly sharing the pictures with anyone or for that matter putting them on social media?

It can be argued that we share pictures only with people close to us. It seems a plausible argument, but what about the fact that these are extremely intimate family pictures, emotional moments, and whatnot.

Being in a ‘globalized’ world where we find that some of our family members or friends are not able to attend such ceremonies, deserve such moments to be shared. Hence, our smartphones act as a reliever there. But how sure are we about the fact that when we share these moments with others they will act as ‘privacy holders’ and not as ‘privacy breachers’.

Why is it then we get to hear from some distant relative or some friend of a friend of a friend, “Oh, yes, I saw your wedding pictures, you were looking great, nice, etc etc.”

This sharing does not happen automatically, at least till now we are not in a world of technology where whatever we have stored in our phones goes to our contacts irrespective of us ‘clicking’. Why is it that some functions are yet to end and most of the pictures are viral, mostly glanced at by people about whose existence we are not even aware?

If this is how it works, then we have to work more towards inculcating a careful and responsible individual. Before pointing to others, we need self-introspection. If some of our friend’s cousins or some distant relative is getting married, we should stop texting people we know would be there and asking them for pictures. That is of no use to us. Also, we have no right to ruin someone’s life, especially newly married couples.

Every day cases of separation, conflict, and trauma are being heard. Most of the cases have their origin in this small gadget, which in size is smaller than us but we have used it the wrong way and made its usage a terrible blow for ourselves. It has many consequences but some of them deserve our attention.

Firstly, no matter how we see it, the fact of the matter is that we are breaching the privacy of not only two individuals but also a family. This leads to family strife, either directly or indirectly.

Secondly, we are indirectly responsible for the psychological harm that we do, especially to the bride folk. At a go, more than 50 phones are targeting a single individual who is at a delicate moment of her life and already full of anxiety.

By doing so, we increase the level of their anxiety and in a way convey to them how it is their facial beauty and overall expressions that are valued and nothing else. People who are already oversensitive tend to get more swayed by all this.

Thirdly, it reduces the human worth to that of a commodity. More especially with brides, this makes them feel that they (especially their beauty) are being sold to the ‘social media market’ which will now define their worth and pass the final judgment of whether ‘she is looking a perfect bride or not.’ The worth is otherwise to be determined by the two individuals.

Fourthly, it normalizes the ‘trend of sending and receiving pictures’ which is/can be very uncomfortable for most families for the fact that their preparations will be judged by several people and distant relatives and fellows.

‘Picture zooming’ determines the worthiness/royalty of the family. Whether it would be zooming tents, the wazwan traamis (plates), jewelry, clothes, dry fruits, groom-tunnels, house paint, the style of cups and plates, and whatnot.

So, what can be done?

The world we live in has been long termed as a ‘global village’, but if inhabiting this world means all the above consequences, then we need to stop, think, and only then move ahead. This cannot be stopped but a try towards reducing it may lead to its stoppage as well for a better future.

A step or initiative by the two individuals related to this can be a fantastic idea to go with. Only if they understand the level of breach of privacy it does to one’s married life. They may go with blunt steps. Maybe by stopping the phone usage in tents, etc. Or by restricting the number of people who can click and record. Maybe taking away phones for some moment. This would not only be beneficial for the family but for everyone who is part of this pious gathering.

We may re-learn how to enjoy moments and take pleasure from them with our senses and emotions rather than fitting them in an ‘artificial way’.

An article—‘If you really want to remember a moment, try not to take a photo’—reveals a study conducted by Linda Henkel, a professor of psychology at Fairfield University, in which she found that ‘Overall, people remembered fewer of the objects they had photographed. They also couldn’t recall as many specific visual details of the photographed art, compared to the art they had merely observed.’

In other words, she argues, if your camera captures the moment, then your brain doesn’t.

This means it is not just a social impact, but we are certainly impacting our health by constantly trying to capture every moment on the phone rather than using our mental capabilities to do so.

It is natural to feel dissatisfied with the experiences and enjoyments because we are going against our instincts. We have to fathom our capabilities and try not to act too smart to go out of our way. For that starts the loss of the essence of our lives.

Lastly, there remains the question about those who argue for the ‘choice factor’ as in it’s their choice to do what they would want, maybe uploading everything, etc.

We have the right to make choices but we also have the choice to reshape our existing choices if they are producing undesirable consequences.

If uploading and sharing pictures is what we like, then we should know our space and privacy, and know where and with whom we are sharing. Know the ones who will stand for your privacy. Knowing one with whom you share anything should know how to keep that to his/her heart and not to the public.

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