^ This is legitimately a picture I took and put on Instagram yesterday. It took more than one attempt to get the shot I wanted. Don't worry, I hate myself too.
I have an awful memory. It is so appalling that I will often find myself walking in to rooms fuelled by nothing but my own sense of purpose, only to immediately forget exactly why I had gone in to that room immediately upon entrance (spoiler: it was usually for biscuits). Dates, events, conversations and the location of my keys frequently disappear from the poorly filed annals of my derelict mind, leaving only the confused husk of a man in their wake. And so, it is because of this massive mental failing that I totally understand the need to document many of the events of your life with mementos and reminders - in my case, this comes in the form of a never ending barrage of post-it notes everywhere around my desk with slightly vague warnings like "THE OVEN IS ON" or "THIS SATURDAY: SORT LIFE OUT" scrawled on them in faded biro. However, lots of well-adjusted people are more privy to taking photos. Now, admittedly, I'm not a big photographer myself, but I’m not really against people taking a couple of photos to document their life. That’s fine.
Of course, what would this blog be if I didn’t have something to talk about that I was against. Increasingly (and this is something I partially put down to the advent of mobile phones with too many extra trinkets), there is a very defined attitude that the only way people can justify everything they do in life is if they ensure they experience it down the lens of some kind of camera. Be it social events, gigs, clubs, museums or whatever, they go far beyond taking photos as a keepsake – they are not content to experience things for what they are, they have to meticulously detail every aspect of them so that they have something to show for that time spent experiencing. Forget being able to tell other people what they did, they want to bore you with a wealth of poorly shot photos to prove exactly what they were up to. Moreover, they usually do it for Likes and retweets.
Gigs are particularly bad for this, as every concert becomes awash with a crowd of slack-jowled nimrods holding up rectangles of artificial light, attempting to document the band on stage; often, to the detriment of other people in the crowd who can’t see for all the tacky amateur photographers attempting to get their perfect shot. Seriously: it’s a gig, the lighting is inconsistent at best and everyone is thrashing around, do you really think you’re going to get that winning picture of the band on your ill-equipped mobile? But perhaps it’s not people to blame. Rather, it’s this weird mind-set that we have all become deeply entrenched in over the last decade, which is exacerbated by the increasingly fleeting way we communicate with each other on social media - the idea that if you can’t show the photo of an event to people who you probably don’t talk to online, you weren’t there.
Of course, I can’t pretend to be above this. I recently signed up to Instagram because I needed some other way for people to lavish me with internet attention to help circumvent my overwhelming sense of crippling loneliness. But what I found pretty quickly was that I was looking at and experiencing nice things, only to think “that’d make a great Instagram post” – I’d stop actually enjoying the moment I was experiencing in an attempt to document it for virtual validation later on. What was worst was when I found myself thinking “Oh, I should find something to photograph for Instagram!”, as if taking a photo and sharing it online was some kind of deep-seated desire I needed to fulfill. It was in that moment, dear reader, that I realised I have become everything I hated.
I guess I’m just trying to say that it’d be good if we could find a way to stop taking photos as an over the top attempt at creating documents for social media approval. It’d be even better if we could all just find a way to experience the moment first hand, because as soon as you whip out that camera phone, you’re just pulling yourself away from that moment – you’re not the experiencer, you're just an observer. Good things are pretty rare, so why have a camera-phone act as a barrier between them and you?