July 18, 2004


Sometimes I have trouble believing in other people.

My family exists, I know that, and the people I work with. And the people I know at the library and at church. Some of my neighbors seem to exist.

But those people's families I'm dubious about. And people in cars driving around my suburban town, their existence is uncertain at best. People in cities I've never been to fade into vanishing unlikeliness.

Maybe this is why I am so fascinated by sites like Look At Me where hundreds of found photographs are posted showing people disconnected from their reality, recorded on film, scanned into bits and given new presence on the web. Clearly that man proud of his new car existed. And those women with their daughters on their front stoop must have been real. You can see it in their eyes. They have a roast in the oven. They're going for a walk around the neighborhood after supper. Those pictures are mostly old, from the middle of the last century and earlier. So even though those people existed when the pictures were taken they could be gone now.

Another site of the kind is Found Photos which is made up of photos pulled from public directories of people's home computers. Smiling babies. Sleeping pets. Drunk girls flashing their tits. Laughing friends. Countless shots of people doing the webcam stare. These pictures could have been taken last week or yesterday or five minutes ago.

Looking at these pictures I start to get a little of the feel of how many people there really are in the world. They all have friends and daily routines. It's like standing on a precipice or looking at the stars when I start to get the sense that all these people are truly going about their lives, breathing the same air as I am.

Two in my house, thirty in my block, hundreds in my neighborhood, 11,000 in my town, six million in my state, almost 300 million in my country, over six billion in the world. They're all really real. It's boggling.

Posted by jeffy at July 18, 2004 06:00 PM
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