Toxic Pictures

Well, we are back from our HIGHLY anticipated trip to the Bahamas, with dozens of pictures and mild sunburns to prove it. We had an incredible time, literally just eating, drinking, and lounging by the beach the entire trip. It was a much-needed break from the whirlwind of work and studying that is becoming my summer.

This week we decided that our topic would be pictures: taking them, editing them, posting them, all that. It bides well with our recent trip, but especially with every-day social media culture.  Both influencers and people I know will surround their lives and what they do by the pictures they can get and put on Instagram. I have heard and seen multiple people buy a clothing item just for the sole purpose of “this will look good in an Instagram picture”. What?

This epidemic was ever present on our trip and at our resort. One of our last nights, Savanna and I were at the bar in the lobby, and Savanna mentioned that she saw a girl posing for pictures for over 10 minutes behind my shoulder. I glanced backed, smirked, and found it even more amusing when she changed locations several times, only to have this production go on for about 20 more minutes.

Savanna and I were joking and making light fun, when I had an utterly blatant epiphany: we had done quite literally the exact same thing the previous two days. Why was I acting high and mighty about this girl’s vanity when I had posed and taken pictures for the sole purpose of putting them on social media as well?

I try to take as many pictures and videos as I can; I always have. They are invaluable memories to keep and are a way to communicate what you saw or lived. When I scroll through my camera roll during the time I studied abroad (a year ago), I see hundreds of pictures of mountains, food, rivers, buildings, and places. When I scroll through the pictures from the Bahamas, the overwhelming majority are just photos of me. What changed?

Social media has been around for years, and I was certainly posting when I was abroad. What I think has changed the most is the culture surrounding social media. The desire to be noticed and gain attention has increased exponentially this past year. There are incredible things that can come out of these platforms, but I see it having a toxic effect in both my life and millions of other people’s.

I’m not going to go on a social media hiatus or preach against these platforms, but I’m going to take them a lot less seriously. It’s so superficial looking at it objectively, and feels refreshing to do so. I’m not going to surround what I do based on pictures that will end up online, but just focus on what’s happening around me, and record what I can for memories. I urge everyone else to do the same.


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