Instant Camera Telegram

Saturday, December 18, 12021 HE

This is a big one for me, a significant change. I am being pulled into the social media vortex. I’m a bit of a technological dinosaur. I didn’t get an email account until I moved away to university in 1999. I got my first cell phone in 2004 after a trip to Europe when I realized that sending SMS texts was super convenient. I was late to MSN messenger. Technically, I have a Facebook account, but I never really was a user. The first time I attempted to sign-up, I got so frustrated with the amount of personal information asked for, that I quit. I did eventually sign-up so that I could have a corporate account. But, my online presence is almost non-existent on the platform.

I never even bothered with Twitter. Though, I am not so immune that I avoid tweets altogether. I just don’t seek them out of my own accord. I’ll read them here and there when a friend forwards something of interest to me.

So it was an unconventional turn for me to start a blog. Mr. anti-social decides to log posts on a public Website. In fairness, anyone who knows me knows that I am verbose, to say the least. Loquacious, bombastic, or tedious are other adjectives that I am sure come to some’s mind. So an overly prosaic blog is perhaps not that out of line.

Perhaps that’s where the impetus to sign up for Instagram arose. As a side, Instagram is a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram”, hence the blog post title. My blog originally started to fill a creative void and writing gap after completing my thesis project for a Diploma in Manual Osteopathy. But feedback from family and friends was to share more photos. I figured Instagram might be the medium to do that. So we’ll see how it goes.

Ironically, my first post was flagged, for inappropriate content that violated the community guidelines, and removed. It was an automated process that gave me the option to contest the removal if I felt it was in error. It was in error, in my opinion, but I could not figure out how to dispute the claim. So instead, I re-post essentially the same content, with a slight modification of the title from “A fall/winter SUP in səl̓ilw̓ət (Indian Arm)” to “A fall SUP in səl̓ilw̓ət (Burrard Inlet/Indian Arm).”

I presumed it was either my tacit endorsement of winter SUPing that was deemed dangerous by the computer algorithms. Or, more likely, my use of the official name of the body of water, Indian Arm. Which I suspect was correctly flagged for the racialized colonial epithet it is. So far, the post is still in existence. So, before I go on a prosaic tangent, check out the photo-reel from Instagram below. And if you want to read more, by all means, please do.

I have always found the use of the word Indian to describe the indigenous people of the Americas peculiar. I did a paper on Christopher Columbus in the fifth grade, and I recollect that’s when I learned he was attempting to sail to India. Which I believe is common knowledge, at least in Western education curriculums. I can’t say that I made the connection then that calling the people of the land that would eventually become the Americas (see the video below) Indians was a strange anomaly. I was only 10-years old. But for sure, by high school, it was apparent to me. Particularly, since growing up in Squamish, there was a large South Asian population. They were often then, and still now, referred to as East Indians. Squamish also has a significant population of Natives. Or as they are/were pejoratively referred to, Indians. The need for a geographical qualifying adjective for Indians outside of India should function as a glaring hint of the historical error. The question “East of what” comes to mind. While attempting to reach India by water, Columbus ended up discovering the Americas. The people he encountered, who were the true descendants of the first people to discover the Americas, were errantly labelled as “Indians” since Columbus believed he had arrived in India. Despite the realization that Columbus was not in India, the label stuck. I find it strange that more people aren’t struck by the oddity that we still call the peoples he mistook as Indians, Indians today.

Here is a great video on how the continents came to get their names.

Though I suppose it is human nature to be unquestioning of our culture or mythology. Believing in culture unquestioningly functions like an evolutionarily stable strategy. That is, questioning everything that your ancestors believed or practiced would be inefficient in prehistoric living conditions. Given that we are approaching the festive season, I think it is fascinating to parallel this to the ubiquity of Christmas amongst secular people. I was brought up in a Roman Catholic tradition and often attended midnight mass as a child. At some point in my youth, I recall our parishioner stating the obvious that the etymology of Christmas is Christ’s Mass. But critiquing myself, I never gave much thought to the peculiarities of putting up evergreens in your home adorned with orbs until recently (here is an excellent “hot take” on the topic from the Blindbody Podcast). I was aware that the birth of Christ was peculiarly close to the December solstice. And the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Both of these insights stemmed from listening to Ras Kass‘ Nature of the Threat in my adolescence (don’t worry, the irony of the prejudice he has toward European descendants is evident to me in the context of this post). While the track is not all factual, it does reference some intriguing history, among which is the reference to Saturnalia. The appropriation of Pagan traditions into Christian practices is a historical trend. And it is not just the Christians, other conquering groups employed this practice. But the commandeering of Christmas goes a long way to explain how we came from evergreens and fruit-like orbs to Bethelem and mangers and now ornaments and consumerism.

And while on the topic, here is one more Christian oddity, the wearing of crosses. How strange would it be, if a few centuries or millennia from now, groups of people were wearing electric chairs around their necks? Or if people in the future were sporting lethal injection syringes as pendants to commemorate a martyr of our time? Perhaps as strange as wearing a guillotine in the same fashion?

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