I was at dinner tonight with my husband, kids, a few other adults, and about 25 teenagers tonight. At some point, the teenager table turned to the topic of everyone's favorite selfies.
I'm not kidding.
This got me to wondering, why did my generation of teens not take selfies? We had cameras. By the time I reached my late teens, we even had digital cameras. What is it about the smart phone that made everyone want to take pictures of themselves over and over again?
I like to gently point out to these self enamored darlings that we already know what they look like. They do not have to remind us 764 time a day.
A few minutes later I went to hide in the car and nurse the baby, so I had some time to ponder this question. At first I thought it was because of the opportunity to see the photo immediately, kind of like when we look in a mirror to see how we look. But then I thought, no, I had a digital camera and my friends and I didn't take 43 pictures a second of our own faces. I'm sure some people did, but it certainly wasn't considered normal.
I had an aha! moment, and I'd like to share it today. It's sure to change your life. No, not really. It's kind of useless information, but mildly interesting, nonetheless.
I think that the happenstance of the smartphone has entirely changed our reasons for taking pictures in the first place. We used to take our cameras with us on vacation or to special events, to record the memories. We might have photos taken once in a while to put on display or give to the grandparents. We wanted to put these pictures in little books and pull them out to reminisce once in a while.
Now, we take pictures so that we can show all of our followers on Face-a-Gram or Twimbler what fantastic thing we are doing right now, or how cute we look today. Or who we're hanging out with.
Or in my case, what artery-clogging mound of deliciousness I am about to stuff in my face.
It used to be about preserving memories, but now I think it's more about showing off. I'm guilty of it, too. I just use photos of my kids instead of myself.
Lest we get too cynical here, (something I would never do, ahem) I do want to point out that it's so great that we have social media to build community. I've lived tons of places and I love keeping up with friends I've made. Also, as a stay at home mom, it's the closest thing to adult interaction I get some days. I love social media. I like oversharing. I just think it's interesting how it's affecting our photography habits.
Next time you are on vacation with a group of people of varied ages, notice how the older ones tend to take pictures of random stuff that makes people like me scratch their head and go "well that's kinda boring". They are trying to record memories while the rest of us are taking photos of our fried chicken and bacon topped donuts.
Not that I would ever do that.