THAT'S LIFE: Your view of the world depends on lens type

Saturday November 4 2017

Thank heavens that today, everyone can be a

Thank heavens that today, everyone can be a photographer thanks to the mobile phone and we can tell which pictures are good and which ones are terrible. FILE PHOTO |  NMG

“Paradigms are like glasses. When you have incomplete paradigms about yourself or life in general, it’s like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription. That lens affects how you see everything else.” Sean Covey


There once was a time when taking photographs was the preserve of the few who had a camera. At that time you trusted the photographer to capture your image correctly and had no way of knowing if the picture was a perfect or not.

Thank heavens that today, everyone can be a photographer thanks to the mobile phone and we can tell which pictures are good and which ones are terrible.

Coming from a generation where a picture had to be perfect, it used to bother me that my children took grotesque images of themselves.

Tongues sticking out, rabbit ears and scrunched up faces. It also bothered me that they literally took hundreds of selfies, and a scroll through their phone galleries revealed their self-absorption. It bothered me even more that they took isolated images of body parts.

A hand by itself or half a face. It didn’t stop there. It was their generation that leaked nude images online because showcasing one’s private parts made one an internet sensation. If infamously so. But who cares as long as you get the most views, right?

Yet there is something wonderful about the ability to capture memories wherever you are simply because you have a phone with a camera. Is baby cracking up? No need to wait until the photographer gets here. You can have the shot instantly. So yes, I love this technology. But as I grow older, there is something else I love about mobile phone cameras. The filters. Particularly one called beauty face that removes blemishes or wrinkles, whitens teeth and eyes and generally makes you look amazing. The underside is that sometimes these filters misrepresent us greatly that when people meet us in person, they can’t recognise us from our profile picture. It’s like looking at a completely different person. Then there’s the selfie angle. You need to know the right way to hold up your hand to get everyone in the image. Is the picture still fuzzy?

In many ways, our life is like a camera. The lens we have on, can and often times, determines our destiny. It has been said that we do not see life as it is, but as we are. That’s why two people can look at the same situation and see something different. It is about the lens. One of my daughters went through an interesting black consciousness phase. She devoured black literature and music that had black consciousness themes. During that phase, she closely followed race issues worldwide, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement. All lives matter, I would insist, and not every evil suffered worldwide was as a result of racism. Yet it was a lens that for a moment, made her view the world and her place in it, from a particular paradigm. Take the lens of gender. When we have it on, we are apt to think, “You are treating me like this just because I am a woman!”

There are other lens that may not be as obvious. The lens of inferiority, for instance. When we have it on, we believe other people are better than us. The lens of superiority has us believe that we are the best and that good things must come to us first. There is the lens of victimhood. When we have this lens, we see ourselves as victims. We believe our lives are the way they are because other people have done us wrong.

There is so much that we may presently believe about our lives that is not true but rather, a lens issue. We have cultural, religious and political lenses. Perhaps those lenses have been given to us by our tribe, our experiences or education. It is still our choice to put them on and view the world through them. In other words, we choose how to see the world. Our view is darkened or enlightened by the lens we put on.