I would like everyone to take out their smartphones. What a wonder of modern technology! It connects us to our communities. It gives us access, potentially, to all of our collected human knowledge. And it gives us tools to record our lives, so the whole world can laugh when you fail, horribly, at safely jumping from your roof into a kids pool. But our technology holds as many pitfalls as it has possibilities. One such pitfall, so seemingly innocuous, undermines us at our very core; our ability to recognize shapes and patterns.
Do an exercise with me, for the sake of all of our souls. Look at your phone. Now look up at the nearest screen, be it a television or a computer monitor. Look at the shapes. All of those wonderful, horizontal rectangles. So ideal for viewing our modern media landscape alone or with your family. Probably alone. Very, very alone.
With all of these horizontal displays cluttering our lives, it’s amazing that smartphone manufacturers only gave us the ability to film vertical rectangles. It’s a glaring omission from companies otherwise obsessed with good design. If I film something in a vertical rectangle, and show it on my computer or t.v., at least two thirds of the screen is going to be useless. It’s a dreadful morass, but there is a solution!
I know that this bizarre technological limitation is confusing to many of us, but I have come up with a low-cost fix that even the most basic smartphone user can easily implement. Turn your fucking phone on it’s side. See? Horizontal rectangles!
“But Benjamin X Caplan, my rambunctious eight year old is mostly a vertical rectangle himself! I”ll have to take pictures of only half of him, or just take videos of him lying down! That’s creepy and boring!”
Don’t fret, faithful reader. Follow my simple advice. Turn your phone sideways, just as I suggested. Do you see how the top and bottom of your children are cut off? Don’t film their torsos! Take a deep breath, and then two steps back. Be careful to avoid the industrial thresher! Now just tell your kids to run into the wall full speed and record it for my amusement. That wasn’t good enough! Make them do it again and again until they get it right!
Fifty years from now, when a race of super-intelligent space squids is combing through the wreckage of our society, they will look at the blurred borders of our fail videos and debate what the messages we were trying to communicate. They will judge us, and they will desecrate our corpses, stringing them up as morbid marionettes for use in educational movies about how to not take cell-phone videos.