My niece and I were having a chat recently about why people upload photos to social media. Here are some of the possibilities we came up with:
1) Insecurity. We might not have a very satisfying life, so we create an ideal ‘story’ on Facebook and Instagram to make others envious and give ourselves a boost.
2. Evidence. If our holiday doesn’t make it to our news feed, did it really happen?…
3. Validation. Photos of ourselves doing good things for others, having fun with friends, or going on a date with a gorgeous guy need to be recorded because they make us look impressive – even though we did only one kind deed, had one fun night out, and went on one hot date in all of 2014…
I love social media and am an avid Facebook user, but I do have a problem with ‘Face-boasting’. My particular peeves are photos of flowers from “my fabulous hubby” on Valentine’s Day, announcements that your one-month-old baby has slept through the night – “what a trooper!” – and records of elaborate purchases many people can’t afford. Starts with Thermo. Ends with Mix.
Hmmm… What else does that leave?
At the risk of sounding like a bitter Facebook addict who refuses to post most of her own
lies photos but will happily trawl through others’ feeds, let me explain.
These bite-sized updates keep us from getting a real, gritty, accurate picture of people’s lives.
When a photo is taken, a moment is captured. Literally… Just one moment. And that moment is usually based around the fact that a camera or phone is pointed in our face. As much as I love photography, front-on pictures capture very little of who we are, what we believe, and how we’re feeling.
As do status updates.
The flowers, the sleeping baby, the latest iPad you bought… Good for you. But it doesn’t tell us anything about you. What makes you tick? What do you love (other than kitchen appliances)? In fact, much of it simply leads to Facebook-envy because others are only seeing your highlight reel – not the real thing.
Social media has its purposes, but I’d rather see you in person than a photographed version of you.
Because if we lose the art of real-life, real-time, face-to-face conversation, all we’re left with is a bunch of images, snapshots – versions of the truth. And that feels kind of wrong.