“Pictures or it didn’t happen!”
Believe me, it did. Or don’t believe me—it still happened. Every moment doesn’t have to be pictured to be real. Every picture doesn’t have to be shared to be precious. My camera roll is bigger than what I share online, and my life is bigger than my camera roll. And I’m happy to keep it that way. Usually.
I admit that I have at times thought carefully—too carefully—about the things I could share online. Even in the middle of a happy family moment or unexpected joy, it’s easy to be distracted by thoughts of dramatic picture angles and clever captions. My mind takes off like a drone, rising above ground-level reality in an attempt to widen the audience and impact of my happiness. The problem is that sometimes my soaring mind disconnects from the very happiness I want to share, focusing more on a far away audience than what’s happening right in front of me. Before I know it, the happy moment is gone, and all I have to show for it is a perfect picture.
I enjoy having beautiful photos, and showing them. I love looking through old snaps and remembering the moments they represent. I love seeing the photos my friends share online. Capturing memories and sharing them is great. But it’s not as great if the real memories behind the photos are actually just memories of working hard to get great photos. When I let the pictures become the constant focus instead of the memories being captured, I rob myself of experiencing my own life. The pictures may all be in perfect focus, but my priorities are not. If I’m always thinking more about how I’m going to share my moments with far away people online then I am about how I’m going to live them well with the people right in front of me, I am missing the point. My life is not a reality show. It’s reality. And the reality of it will always be far more important than the show I put on for others. I don’t need to be the full-time publicist of my own life. Life is made to be lived, not live-streamed. Want to talk about it? Let’s get a coffee. We don’t even have to take a picture of it.