I used to love birthday parties. But what I loved even more than the parties was reliving the rounds of musical chairs, pass the parcel and creamy black forest cakes with magic candles that refused to die, through photographs from my camera.
Before digital cameras, instagram and hipstamatic took over our very existence, I used to spend my pocket money on rolls of Kodak film. After the party was over, I would wait two or sometimes three days until the roll was developed. I would pay my hundred something and a hundred something more if I’d asked for duplicates. The duplicates would find a place on my pin board and the smiling faces of my friends and I were stabbed with colorful tacks.
But I loved the wait. Unlike today, I never knew what the pictures would look like. Not the faintest idea. Back then photographs were innocent. They were just pure and simple happy memories caught in a magic box with a bright light.
Today pictures have lost that innocence. They are posed, artificial and are ogled at by thousands of judging eyes. Not all of those eyes know you. Some of them don’t even like you, but they still stare at you. You and your coffee stained teeth. You with your bad, bad hair day and “duck faced” pout. Or you with heavy eye-lids after your sixth tequila shot. You are no longer just a memory, you are on display in a museum called Facebook and you will remain there forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. I spend more time romancing pictures and status updates than I spend romancing my boyfriend. I am guilty of changing my profile pictures even before I brush my teeth. It doesn’t matter if bacteria and gingivitis are making their way into my gums and little cavities, my profile picture should be new and improved.
Off late, my security settings have been made a little more secure but there was a time when I would parade every happy, sad, insecure, drunken, and proud moment. I was the star of my own little Facebook movie. Sometimes I’d get rave reviews in the form of many likes and sometimes rude comments that would be deleted at the click of the delete button. But it was already too late because every homefeed had already seen the” oh, Sam cellulite much” remark.
Another act I am guilty of is the Oh- emm –geee- let –me- see- that –picture- right- after -it –has- been -clicked act. Today we don’t wait half a second to see the outcome of our friends picture taking skills because we know that with a click of yet another button, we can be dissected and torn into tiny pieces.
So we snatch cameras, redo the shot just like the previous shot, smile a little brighter, wipe off that extra concealer, pat dry our sweaty noses and suck in our bellies. So the world will see a more beautiful and perfected version of us. It doesn’t matter if our friend standing posing next to us looks like a tranny that just escaped a train wreck. As long as we look good then the picture is “Soooo gooodd…. Really really nice.. totally gonna frame this shit.”
It all really is very silly. We spend so much time extracting information. creating stories. building emotions. spreading gossip. feeling ugly. All because of a picture taken by a digital camera. We’re diluting the very reason pictures are taken. Pictures aren’t supposed to be picture perfect in fact the uglier the picture, the more beautiful the story.
So someone bring me back my magic box.