I was thinking about the oddities of social media photography today.
When I was a kid I grew up in a house wallpapered with family photos. My grandmother dutifully recorded and kept pictures of her husband, each child and each grandchild and each great grandchild and all their various life landmarks.
Photos abounded of first school days, first stuffed toys, first guitars, graduation days, first cars, first jobs.
And although she covered (literally) every wall in pictures, only one picture in the entire house was of herself…and in it she was not alone.
That silver-framed iconographic style photo was her wedding picture.
There were no pictures of the family pets, no pictures of close friends. And if someone were disgraced from the family their photos remained but were relegated to hard to see corners or high shelves.
Later in my life, I came to work for some famous and semi-famous people and I encountered the concept of the ego wall.
I had one boss who was a famous musician and his walls showed him with the President of the US, important government officials in Europe and Asia, other famous musicians, and documented his travels. There was a picture of him in La Scala, at the Eiffel tower, and so on.
Another boss had showcases with city officials, important business people, at ground breakings, at ribbon cuttings.
And so forth.
Then at a certain point in my life I met a woman who’s life was almost purely social. A traveler and a jet setter, her photos were of herself and her friends – actual friends she corresponded with, telephoned, shared cruises with, and so forth. Yet her photos were still of unusual once in a lifetime things. A zipline in Peru, a group shot on the Oasis of the Sea on it’s first cruise, her daughter and herself seated precariously on a camel.
And then in my first few years online, I began to see selfies. Photos of the “Here I am with” genre. These pictures still had some uniqueness and flavor to them as people were still documenting comparative rarities in their lives.
Then it was mirror selfies. Bathroom selfies. “You name it” selfies as suddenly people felt a need to document only themselves and all of the time.
Then it was their pets.
Next their meals.
And now memes with pre-printed labels and captions and familiar cartoon or celebrity faces.
I guess I should just be glad we -as a culture- never posted poop glamour shots.
The only thing I have never seen and not sure why – as to me this is as valid as taking and posting pictures of your lunch, (perhaps even more so) – are photo galleries of our internet friends.
A person who collected pictures of his/her internet friends and posted them on his wall would be considered socially odd, one who printed them and hung them in his bedroom would be considered pathologically odd.
Although given that we now consider family photos uncool, photos of ourselves with real friends passe, and photos of our animals cute, and our food, chic, I have no idea why this is; especially as some of my internet friends have shown more compassion and love for me than some of my flesh and blood family.
I’ve seen other posts or had other face to face talks with people who have said the same thing but it is still not something that is actually done.
But it definitely makes me wonder about our culture when a photo of my turkey sandwich, which I met for maybe half an hour one lunchtime and again briefly going the other way the next morning, is considered more worthy or recording and sharing with posterity than the time I actually shook Bob Dylan’s hand.
As it is I have become somewhat disenchanted with the entire process.
Very very few photos of me exist and fewer still are online. I also tend to purge my social media galleries pretty damn regularly as a photo of a rock should not have the same permanence of record as a photo of my Godson taking his first steps should have.
And my real walls do not have a single photograph upon them.
Strange that for me it would come to that, but for me my respect for the reality of an experience has been reduced to my actual memories of that time preserved only in the folds of my mind where I can treasure them all of my life.
But in a world where lettuce has the same value as the president then there is no real point in saving anything at all for the future.
Salud, Salad, and signing off.