I don’t take selfies. I pride myself on the distinct lack of them on any on my social media profiles and camera rolls. The truth is when I see anyone frozen in a rictus while –generally- holding some edible item and trying to balance a phone in their other hand, I feel some measure of embarrassment for them.
Worse still is when a whole group of people are bent and trying to smile through various limbs losing all feeling or making growing protests, all while the person right in front tries their darndest to fit everyone into the perfect, epic groupfie. No, thank you. On more than one occasion, I feel some misplaced superiority to those poor souls, cocooned in the assurance that I would never willingly sink to such public displays of narcissism because I do not need to prove to everyone else on my social media feed that I have good times of my own.
I am proud that I stand apart from the crowd in this way, like some small victory against the tide of this selfie culture wave where everyone is desperate to showcase the best times of their lives, making it some kind of competition in which I have, metaphorically speaking, told the judge to f**k off. Mic drop, walk off stage.
Same thing applies to those taking food pictures and the “candid” pictures. Oh Yeah. Those are a whole nother can of worms. The sheer amount of effort I can feel is behind these “effortless” pictures is just amazing. #iwokeuplikethis? Yeah, not likely. Comedians like Celeste Barber hilariously recreates celebrity photos which she posts on Instagram, reminding us that the other half’s social media are on a whole other level of effort.
And yet… and yet…
I too frequently use Instagram and Facebook, (no Snapchat yet, despite some efforts on my friends’ part) and I enjoy seeing the pictures my friends post up, scrutinizing the people/food/scenery in them, comparing my friends to themselves five years ago, good Lord, how time has improved them, subconsciously judging the #nofilter, and wondering if this is their life everyday even though countless studies and statistics tell me they’re not; generally ending with me getting depressed that my life isn’t half as exciting as theirs appears to be.
Photos? That’s for people who can’t remember anything.
So even as I thumb my nose at the masses, a small part of me is envious of their evident enjoyment and self-confidence. For I believe you need it in spades to be able to grin winningly at a small rectangular object in your outstretched hand for five minutes straight just to capture this perfect moment, #confident #nofilter
Ever seen the movie ‘Up in the Air’? The protagonist is hired to fire people with travel expenses paid. It was a dream job. Since he spends 90% of his time in airports, whizzing around the country to break it gently to the terribly unlucky ones that their services will no longer be required, he also gives talks on how to pack light, both in his one suitcase and his life. My point lies in one of his lines that stuck with me, “Now we get to the small stuff.
Photos? That’s for people who can’t remember anything.” Something like that. Basically, he’s promoting a minimalist lifestyle. Anyway, ever since I heard that, I realize that I may have been subconsciously following such a mindset my whole life. I always believe that if you’re so busy trying to “capture the experience”, you just might miss out on the whole thing, especially if it’s a split-second nature.
I recently met up with some friends from college. Awesome girls who at first I never thought I would click with but now I can’t imagine my life without them. It struck me at some point, we don’t have any pictures of the three of us. None. Not a single one. On any platform. And if the worst should happen, in ten years’ time, we’re no longer friends and we don’t stay in contact; I would have absolutely no proof, nothing to show for these few years, right now, that we were friends.
No memento of this wonderful relationship that has brought so much colour and joy to my life. Nothing to hold on to. And honestly, it scares me because I never want to forget and the same goes for every other great time I’ve ever had. Yes, I can remember it now, but there will come a time so far in the future that the colours will fade, the faces become blurry, the images that are right now shining will shift like sand, becoming unrecognizable and I will forget.
My favourite childhood holiday was to go to Egypt. I loved it so much. The photo album of it brought back all the memories. The heat beating down on us, the smell of sweaty tourists surrounding us as we were bent double to enter the pharaoh’s tomb, my wonderful tour guide who was funny and incredibly knowledgeable, telling us all about the mythology and history of Egypt, Shisha smoke, Riding a camel, my mom screaming as she almost fell off one. Ten years ago. yet if I look through the pictures I can see it so clearly.
..perhaps I should ditch my ‘dignity’ once in a while in favour of making a memory I might just want to keep forever.
In the end, if there were no pictures, no proof, did it really happen at all? Maybe I should take a selfie right now, and #selfaware so I can remember in five years, that there was a moment right now that I was aware: perhaps I should ditch my ‘dignity’ once in a while in favour of making a memory I might just want to keep forever.