Never before have we had more control over the overall image we present of ourselves than we do now. Is it too much control?
Whether you were born into the digital age or not, it’s changed the way we think — which is why releasing some of it can be a good thing.
Unchecked, that freedom and autonomy can lead to a sort of author’s burden, a need to craft the story around our lives and understand every sub-thesis of every season in real time.
Some healthy retrospect is fairly easy to fade into foggy memory, but nothing really snaps you out of a highly curated moment like some of your tagged photos on Facebook.
Yes. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come sometimes.
Family albums used to lend us a sort of emotional time travel. There’s a muscle memory to seeing the matching bows and dresses and haircuts chosen for us. It’s called cringing, but if it leads to laughter, I think it’s worth remembering that comic relief available to us.
Considering the grand history of the world, it is very strange that we may feel responsible to craft what the story is around our lives of who we are and what we believe our place is, every second, all the time.
As born storytellers, we have an amazing and wonderful nature that searches for the true and good, to memorialize and share it. But I don’t want to constantly be thinking in the back of my mind about how to articulate why I matter and am living my best life on the internet.
Should we un-tag ourselves when we don’t like how we look? Should we try to outweigh the embarrassing photos with as many that show our best side as possible?
Our friends and family also tell a story of who we are in their lives, and the depth of that is missed if every moment posted is picture-perfect.
So it’s worth remembering, that even if we look silly or dumb or straight-up barbaric in a group picture, memories with our lived ones paint a much richer picture of connection than those photos do. And it’s probably easier to appreciate that if we don’t look so photo-ready.
The reach of those experiences of connection IRL is far beyond the longevity of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Sometimes I think today that with the world at our keyboards, we assume our brains to sort of exist in “the Cloud.” They don’t, and our influence isn’t measured by algorithms, follow counts or likes and comments. It’s measured in the kindness, trust and laughter we share with the people we love. For every friend we truly hold dear, there is a universe of wonder much more worth “logging into” than checking our perception of ourselves in the social media mirror.
We don’t always need to know and articulate the meaning of every twist and turn of our days, on social media or IRL.
But maybe it’s worth facing the pictures we wouldn’t (and didn’t!) choose to post, because the closest thing to a family album might just be the photos your mom and your friends have posted of you.
And so, I say start with a click on your tagged photos on Facebook. Because you know, you probably really didn’t look that bad.
Images via Alandra Michelle