For those who don’t know, GoPros are those little digital cameras you can strap to your head. They are hardy, easy to use, and can hold a lot of memory that you can upload and view on a computer. They’re waterproof and crash resistant. They’re designed to film your perspective while leaving your hands free.
When they were first produced, they were promoted as a way to film your own stunts from a first-person view. They have been the inspiration and often downfall of many an aspiring daredevil, from sky divers to rock climbers to surfers. They were supposed to be a way to let other people see what it was like to SCUBA dive with sharks or whitewater raft without getting wet or drowning. Within a month of the advent of GoPros, it seems like every possible stunt had been recorded, every possible landmark had been explored, and every possible magnificently impressive whipeout had been captured from the perspective of the maniac involved.
So with little purpose left to fill, it seems that GoPros have gone the way of most other technologies that evolved too fast for human society to catch up. They have become common without being socially acceptable. I have seen people using GoPros like video cameras, only with these they strap them up, turn them on, and then forget about them. They walk around, a small box with a lens riding on their forehead or chest, filming everything they turn and look at.
The thing I notice now is people using them during tours. In last few months, there has been about one per group. That means that every time I lead a hike or activity, someone is filming my every word and gesture. And not once have I been asked permission, or seen someone stop to turn off the little camera, even for a while. The cameras are always on, always watching.
When did this become OK? It has always been expected that you ask before taking a picture. Why would a video be any different? Recording someone when they are not expecting it just seems rude to me. Is it supposed to be acceptable just because it’s easy to do?
And what are these videos for? Are these people really going to reminisce or edit all those hours of candid footage? Is this going on a blog or website? If you want video, use a real goddamn camera, rather than something that looks like the vision of a bobblehead doll with a fisheye lens. Also, remember: your every head movement is being captured on film. Is you gaze wandering? Your viewers will know exactly what you were looking at. Do you tend to nod a lot? Congratulations, your audience now has motion sickness.
I’m a tour guide, so I expect people to be watching and listening to me. If they want a picture or video, I’m fine with that. But I appreciate a little discretion. And courtesy. But since GoProers are clearly oblivious to their faux pas, I am proposing this: Every time a GoPro is trained on me without my permission, I will try to sneak in as many subtle lewd gestures as possible. I will scratch my butt, I will pick my nose, I will readjust my underwear. And I will act perfectly casual while doing it. If that ends up on your family video, Why, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was on film. Did it make you uncomfortable? Well, how ’bout that.