I don’t understand, among the myriad of other ridiculous things for which my generation is unduly criticized, why there is so much hatred for people taking so many selfies and other photos with their devices. Like first of all, of course we’re the first group of people to do this on the regular. Camera phones didn’t saturate the market until maybe 10 years ago, if you want to be really charitable.
Like, calm down. I get it, back in the day you had to haul heavy equipment with its own designated bag just to snap a couple family photos on the beach. But lets not pretend this is some sort of new impulse, the bar of entry has just been lowered exponentially. I don’t think anyone gets on in years and muses to themselves “Hey, you know what would be great? Fewer photos of myself and my loved ones experiencing life together. They finally added the Golden Girls to Netflix!” (This is the part where I break the fourth wall and stare at you, Netflix.)
Even in my lifetime I remember having to pick up multiple disposable cameras ahead of time if I knew I was travelling or doing something fun, then pray when I got the prints (and maybe even the photo CD if I was feeling fancy and wanted to wait 20 minutes per photo to share with my dial-up buddies) that there were at least a few amazing shots. Digital cameras existed, but if I took the mind blowing 1.3 megapixel digital camera my family invested in and broke it, it was more trouble than it was worth. (Also the memory card held like 40 photos on a dim day.)
There’s always some over-enlightened, “anti-negativity” yet always low key slides it in philosopher nouveau whinging about how “unfortunate” it is that people can’t “just be present”. As if magazines, newspapers, comic books, novels, and notebooks have never existed. As if before 2005, everyone was taking it all in like they were in a yogurt ad. You can be present while glancing at a screen. You can be present while capturing, you can be present while sharing. Humans have evolved to do more than one thing at a time, and sometimes even relatively well! Most people aren’t trying to be all Annie Leibovitz with their phones. If I see one more social commentary featuring an image of people hunched over their devices on the subway, I am going to lose my fucking mind.
We live in a time of unprecedented ability to share our inner lives with each other and relate closely on a global scale, and I am here for it. I love watching my friends snap stories about their inner thoughts, daily lives, and interesting shit they do. I love seeing people doll themselves up for selfies. I love genuine smiles and seeing what other people decide to capture for themselves to not only share with the world, but remember later. I don’t think its out of left field to say it fosters a sense of intimacy when people share their view of the world, sometimes quite literally. Like, isn’t it a major part of the human condition to want to be understood?
My camera roll on my phone gets me through my bad days. I can curl up on my couch and relive every happy moment I was able to capture. Depression (whether its seasonal, manic, or chronic) has this insidious ability to make you honestly forget times when you were ecstatic, happy, and felt loved. It can become a mental exercise to even think of an example. For some people (hello!), the visual aid at least lets us take a moment and have ourselves proven wrong.
And on the flip side, some days you’re just really feeling yourself so you take a fuckton of selfies. I mean honestly, why the hell not? If there is something wrong with capturing and documenting your good days, then I don’t want to be right.