Some amateur photographers – armed with digital cameras – have become this century’s train-spotters. No wonder they’re suffering from Digital Distress Syndrome.

Digital technology is responsible for a lot of anger – and the odd murder. There’s Computer Rage, Irritable Desk Syndrome, My Little Crash Crisis, and just general raging against the machine. And now, according to Adobe-sponsored research, digital photographers are being caught up in an attack of the killer buzzwords: Digital Distress Syndrome (DDS).

Wheeling out stress expert and psychologist Gladeana McMahon (she of Big Brother and GMTV analysis fame) to hand out advice, the report says that one in five Britons suffer from DDS. Why? Because while we spend thousands on digital cameras, we simply can’t be bothered to archive our pictures of granny properly, and panic when we reformat the hard-drive, wiping out years of digitally captured photographic memories.

You can see the report’s point. As creative technology allows us to capture more, edit more, store more, and share more, it only stands to reason that – since our brains haven’t also been upgraded – we’re going to get increasingly overwhelmed with the digital stuff that surrounds us. Digital photographers are the worst, according to the report. Armed with almost infinite storage space and a working forefinger, some digital camera owners have become little more than train-spotters for the 21st Century. It’s like they’re touting Uzis – squeezing off hundreds of frames indiscriminately, and in the process wiping out all of the art associated with great photography.

The result? Groaning hard-disks crammed with snaps (not considered photographs, mind), and spinning, numbed brains that simply can’t cope with having to store and sort all this flotsam. And, while McMahon comes out with some decent advice in the report (breathe slowly, keep things in perspective, and have a laugh) when faced with digital disaster, Adobe’s answer of using its Photoshop Album software does seem like pouring technological petrol on an already smoldering mess.

So, some advice for people with nervous ticks resulting from a bad case of DDS. First – take less pictures. Or film less footage. Or download less content or MP3 files. Why not, just for a change, avoid hoarding millions of textures for 3D models. And stop harvesting thousands of fonts, ‘just in case’. In case of what? An alien invasion that can only be destroyed by Comic Sans?

You’ll find something interesting happens – you might just turn your attention to creating or capturing quality content. Stuff that you can use, now, today. And, as there’s less stuff in the first place, you won’t get all sweaty-palmed when you have to wait while your computer takes a worrying amount of time to list all your snaps.

But, let’s say you’re one of the unfortunate few who have taken it all too far. You have lots of photos. On one hand, you could buy Adobe’s Photoshop Album, but let’s
face it, technology got you into this. So, back up right now.

Stop reading this column (there’s another next month) and go burn everything to a CD. Done? Good, at least you’re not going to panic about data loss. Next, sort through all your images, while breathing very, very slowly until – as you fall unconscious – you simply cannot pick up the camera to take any more.