The Passenger Effect is something I thought about recently. I was trying to think about why I stopped taking pictures of the sky in recent years. As soon as I got my first cellphone, the camera roll was always filled with sunsets, fun clouds, fields of grass, and lanscapes I would see while in the car. In the past five years or so though, my camera roll was pretty devoid of any sort of pictures, except for when I would go hiking or was on vacation.

It’s not like I stopped enjoying the sky and taking pictures of things--if anything, I wanted to do more of it. So why didn’t my camera roll reflect that? After some thinking, I realized that I grew up.

By growing up, I don’t really mean growing physically or having a change of heart or a different mindset. I mean more of the boring things that come with growing up. Responsiblities and duties to schools and extra curriculars is one. But what really did it in was learning how to drive and getting a car.

I didn’t get my license or a car until after I had graduated high school, so until that point, I had been a professional passenger in my mom’s car. Being a passenger allowed for me to see the world at a different pace (literally and figuratively). I could take all the pictures I wanted and didn’t risk crashing the car or getting a ticket. I could daydream the entire ride. I could space out. I could pretend like I was in a teenage music video. But I can never do this when I’m driving.

Being a passenger allows for so many thoughts to happen. Whether or not you think is up to you, but just the freedom to do so is much more liberating than you  would expect. There’s so much time to think. The only other times I’ve experienced this as an “adult” in college were times I took public transportation, was walking around, or when I was the passenger in a car.

On the right, a scene from Spirited Away. If Chihiro was driving, I wonder if she (or the viewer) could have appreciated this scene as she did in the movie.