Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Lives Were Not Meant to be Magazine Spreads

This isn't going to be another article about how other people's Instagrams damage our own self-worth.  This is the story of one girl's terror. Namely mine.

We live in a wondrous age of communication. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare we can pretty much track each other at all times. Foursquare documents our travels between home, work, and play. Facebook documents said travels with photographs of us and the people we were with. Twitter records our sarcastic comments upon life, and Instagram paints our lives a pretty shade of Kelvin. It's a serial stalker's paradise.

It started out innocently enough. My college roommate sent a save the date with a lovely picture of her and her fiancee in a field of tulips. Eventually I saw the rest of the pictures. They were adorable. I'd never before seen an engagement shoot like this, but since she was the picture of sweet South Carolinian cuteness it seemed like a great idea.

Fast forward a few years later and everyone and their brother had engagement pictures. And wedding pictures. And anniversary pictures. And pregnancy pictures. And nineteen month anniversary pictures. These are not the casual snapshots taken on whims. These are extravagant photoshoots with props rivaling those of a Vogue shoot ordered by Anna Wintour herself. Fake mustaches. Elaborate couches in the middle of sun dappled forests. Millions of vintage books. Abandoned warehouses for the gritty couple in love. Even a mud biking event followed by a good old fashioned tractor pull.

In short, we have insanity. How did this become a thing, I asked, as I flipped through 995 pictures of the same wedding. I feel slightly guilty clicking through other people's albums. But, just as I can't resist staring at exhibitionists on the National Mall, I find myself unable to simply not click. This is what the future has brought us. No longer do we have to visit our friends houses to see their wedding videos. We can now do it on our living room couches in our pajamas with a shot of tequila for company.

I chiefly blame the economy for this. The economy because things are so bad that buying a camera and pointing it at people for money seems like a viable career option to those who still think black and white photos with key items in dubious shades of technicolor hitherto unseen in day to day life are a good idea. These photos are gems and can be found in tumblrs dedicated to the preservation of other people's bad taste.

Because of this there is now an immense pressure to be photogenic, and we all can remember late night rampages on Facebook, untagging ourselves from pictures we had no idea were being taken, reporting the pictures as abuse, and trying to lock down said pictures so no one can ever see them again. If we didn't Instagram it, did it really happen?

But there is hope yet. In 2010 Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, and they released exactly two engagement photographs. Granted, their wedding was shown live all over the world, but if two photographs are good enough for Kate Middleton, then I feel like that should be good enough for the rest of us.

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