7-3 Camera and Technology Etiquette

In short, there isn’t any. Technology here is too new and too rare for any kind of limitations to be put on what is acceptable in the picture and what isn’t. They love the idea of photos and seeing those images, so anything we take pictures of is fair game. The only things stopping me from taking pictures is my own sense of etiquette.

Let me give an example. At the funeral of a man in the next village over, I was trying to get a shot of lowering him into the grave. It was crowded and I didn’t want to shove my way to the front. Then one of the oldfala who I really like saw me. He pulled me to the front and pushed two kids out of the way so I could get a better shot of it. This was perfectly acceptable behavior, I just felt rude doing it. It is like that with everything. I recorded the sound of crying at a different funeral, though I felt awkward about it. Here, they want me to do it because it is new and different.

That interest combined with the lack of personal space and personal possessions, means every photo I take has to be shown around. I don’t mind except it means I can’t take more photos and viewing photos on the camera takes up a lot of battery and it is hard to charge up the camera regularly. They are all afraid of actually using the camera, which works to my benefit because I’m a little afraid to let them, but if they weren’t, it would be fair game.

When I say fair game, I don’t mean asking to borrow it for a few hours. I mean just taking it and giving it back when they were bored or the battery was dead. The other day, I was working in the garden with Jason and an aunty and a sister. We went into the garden house to hide from the rain. Jason and I went back out to pick some cabbage to bring home and when we got back, they were unabashedly playing with our cell phones. In America, this is disrespectful and rude and an invasion of personal space. Here, it is expected. They weren’t pranking and changing the language, just scrolling through phone numbers, reading old text messages and checking our credit. Though it still feels like an invasion of my privacy, I have to tell myself that it isn’t and to let it go and laugh it off.

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