“Welcome to ____, Helen Mirren.”

Those were the words making their way across the radio to thousands of listeners across the city early one morning while they quietly made their way to work. Words meant to fill listeners with a sense of pride and curiosity around the visiting VIP. Words being shared even before the city’s arriving guest had even made it to her hotel.

Before she could even get out of the airport her photo was out, shared to many a friend and follower through Instagram and Facebook, caveated that she was sans makeup (no doubt as an overnight flight). With best of intent, the radio announcer as wishing to welcome the VIP guest to the city.


In doing so, and as welcoming as the radio announcer may have been wishing to be, in an instant the potential private get-away of a public face was ended. Anonymity was no longer. Privacy was past tense.

The social media age in which we live today is an incredibly exciting, engaging one. It allows people near and far to ‘connect’ in ways never experiences before – geographically, emotionally, ideologically, instantly.

Suddenly a mobile device becomes power in one’s hands.

And with this great power, as the credo goes, comes great responsibility. Thoughts suddenly need to be entertained, with oneself, centered around one question: “is it ok?”

Privacy vs exposure

Celebrity vs anonymity

Restriction vs entitlement

Which begs the question: does owning a camera mean it is acceptable to access another person’s personal space?

There is no external, single answer. This is an internal question that one needs to work through, for oneself. From both sides – as the onlooker, and as the subject. How would one feel if the tables were turned?

As social media embeds itself in the lives and lifestyles of the global community, with it will emerge mindfulness and manners. And with that will come a fascinating new global ‘code’.

Still, at the essence of ‘social’, be it within the media context or otherwise, is people coming together. When temptation sets in to capture a moment, any moment, as with all human engagement, the question to be taken to heart should ultimately be: ‘is it bringing us closer together, or pushing is apart?’

Whether subject or observer everyone is someone, of worth, of importance.

And deserving of respect of face, place and space.



Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014