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Published on September 11th, 2012 | by John I.

Are Smartphones Turning us all into Paparazzis?

Have smartphones turned all of us into opportunistic paparazzi militants? That is probably the view of Prince Harry, who has been tarred and feathered by the global media after snaps emerged of the sloshed royal cavorting with blonde playmates in a Las Vegas hotel. While the press have scoffed, sneered and concocted headlines such as ‘The naked prince’ and ‘Crown jewels on display’, an encouraging 42.37% majority of a Daily Mail online poll poo-poohed the validity of the brouhaha, insisting that ‘he’s just an ordinary young man and the Royals are better for it.’ I’m inclined to agree wholeheartedly. Let’s face it, if you were a young, handsome, eligible member of the royal family let loose in Sin City, getting bare-ass naked and initiating a game of strip billiards in your VIP high-roller hotel suite is the very least you should do.

But there is a serious issue underpinning this frivolous story. Smartphones, with their capacity to plug us into high-speed internet, capture high-res digital images and video and share content with millions, are dangerous tools in the wrong hands – or in an inebriated pair of hands at least, which applies to most of us. Hell, a smartphone has the potential to destroy careers, whether it is causing a head of state to abdicate or a supermodel to clean up her image. Theoretically, a smartphone could cause a world war – in fact it could even end one if BlackBerry were to issue Obama with an app containing the launch codes to America’s nuclear arsenal.

There was once an argument that smartphones turned us into unsociable beings – forever glued to our handsets, texting rather than speaking, hitting up the web rather than initiating another IRL conversation with our partners. Perhaps that argument has now been flipped on its head; we are now too social, eager to share every private and personal moment with the world, keen to Tweet our innermost pains and aspirations, downright obsessed with taking photos to stimulate shock and envy in our friends and family.
In the case of the ‘Crown jewels’ story, you can’t really blame a scampish reveller from snapping pics of a starkers Prince Harry bear-hugging a giggling female, can you? That’s Twitter gold, guaranteed to trend globally. More than that, the rights to those images represents a life-changing sum of money. And, to take a less cynical approach, the photographer could’ve just been caught up in the moment, their mind devoid of moxie but rather consumed by drunken mischief.

Perhaps what should be taken from this story is that smartphones themselves are not bad things – they are simply tools that can cause a great deal of embarrassment, humiliation and indignation when the involved parties are being less than, ahem, regal. Are they turning us into members of the paparazzi? In a way, yes; most us now have cameras on our phones, and if we see something that makes us laugh, wince or drop our jaws in surprise, we may be inclined to snap it and share it. What can’t be denied is that things aren’t going to change any time soon. HTC, LG, BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows, Sony; they ain’t going anywhere. Just like Harry’s humiliation.
This was a guest post by Simon from the mobile comparison website Best Mobile Contracts.

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