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The Bystander Paradox

Amanda Bernocco Staff Writer

Have you ever looked in the background of a photograph and seen a stranger who was caught in an awkward pose with an embarrass- ing face? You may be laughing now, but think about how many pictures of this nature exist in the world, perhaps featuring you as that strange person. Do you find it creepy? Some LIU Post students do.

“I never really thought about it [being in the background of stranger’s pictures]. It’s pretty creepy to think about,” said Stephanie Morales, freshman Art Therapy major.

Julian Wilson, a freshman Journalism major, agrees. “I don’t like to think about it…if I see myself in the background of a picture with a weird face—that’s just not good,” he said.

Millions of people are taking pictures at any given moment of the day. Are you sitting at a sports game behind a group of friends that are taking a group photo? There’s a chance you may be caught in the background of their shot, shoving a handful of crackerjacks in your mouth.

Jennifer Geissman, a sophomore Vocal Performance major, feels that depending on how recognizable the person in the background is the picture could be a violation of that per- son’s privacy.

With the high popularity of social media in today’s society many of these pictures—that may have you in the background—end up all over the Internet. These pictures will be on the World Wide Web, which is accessible to everyone from your grandmother to your future boss.

What if you went to a bar last weekend and took a shot for a friend’s birthday? What if that image gets captured clearly in the back- ground of another group’s photo? If you don’t personally know the people who took the photo, it could easily be posted publicly on the Internet without you even knowing that the picture exists.

“I obviously want to know what pictures I’m in, but I’m not scandalous so I’m not worried about ruining my professional life,” said Geissman. She added that there is a difference between taking pictures with people and walk- ing behind someone in Disneyland and being really recognizable caught with a less-than- flattering facial expression or pose.

“I’m a musician so I see myself in pictures a lot and I wish I was tagged in some of them… I guess it just depends on the picture,” Said Jared Bonanno, a freshman with an undeclared major.

Not all students are fond of the idea that their image may be unknowingly on the Internet. However, if you respect your friends’ wishes of whether or not they want a recognizable picture on the Internet and if you are aware of the feelings of your bystanders, less people may be bothered by this thought.

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