Awareness: 12/15/2017

My brother is back in town for the holiday, and my mom invited us out to dinner. We spent the first part of the dinner taking pictures, and my brother and I are resistant to having our picture taken on general principle.

The pictures, I suppose were for my mother, but they were also for her online followers.

I have often resented the idea of taking pictures entirely for the sake of public consumption or for the preservation of a given memory. Something that would ordinarily be spontaneous and fondly remembered over many years, becomes staged and ruined by extent. Instead of experiencing the moment as it happens, the moment becomes engineered, and the experience becomes disingenuous.

I’ve seen parents record the entirety of an elementary school Christmas play in order to preserve a memory for the historical record, and in preserving that memory they have separated and deprived themselves of it. They watch their lives happen through a screen, and in doing so they become spectators to life and not participants in it.

How terrible a thing it is to record an event that will only happen once. It is much better to remember it- memory has a way of polishing the rough edges. Video shows every mistake, affords every opportunity to detect moments of inadequacy. Memory improves an event while video diminishes through scrutiny.

What is worse is people deprive themselves of experience so that strangers and acquaintances may participate in their family moments. We post pictures and videos of our child crying because they are being bullied in school, and we hold those videos up to the public to cause an outcry when we should be comforting and teaching as parents. The opinions of others, and the drip of dopamine that gathering likes and followers provides, has replaced quiet moments lived fully. The mass of the public seems to always loom over our shoulder. When we see the concert for the elementary school Christmas play, we subconsciously think about the number of likes we could get, we think about sending the video to an aunt or a grandfather so they can look and tell us just how cute our child is. We are sacrificing the experiences of our lives at the altar of vanity.

The issue is not the taking of pictures, but it is the reason for doing so. We should spend less time concerned with the opinions of distant friends and relatives. We should resist the urge to display our lives so that we may gain the false adoration of the masses. In doing so, we sacrifice the most valuable part of the human experiences, we deprive ourselves of our memories.

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