Picture Perfect: An Exploration of Photographs In the Modern World
I can only imagine how many pictures are taken in a given day, better yet a week or a year. Selfies included.
When I first started taking pictures, it was to both remember and reflect on each moment. Honestly, I was afraid that I would end up with Alzheimer’s or Dementia or some kind of memory loss and forget all of these wonderful memories that I had. It was probably for this reason that I used to keep journals too. I just wanted to keep all of the memories that I had in some way. So, for as long as I can remember, I took pictures. In high school, I was sometimes called the “camera girl” because I always had a camera on me. It’s no wonder how I ended up in Yearbook class.
Nowadays, thanks to the internet and social networks, pictures are everywhere! You want a picture of quotes, animals, fashion, poetry, song lyrics, people, houses, vacation spots, etc., you can find it. But what’s the psychology behind the picture or the post? Is it for attention? Validation? Are you hooked on how many "likes" you get?
At the moment, Instagram is my favorite social network site. Why? Because it doesn’t limit your thoughts or words to a 140 character tweet and it’s not an overload of information about people or their lives like on Facebook. Basically, it’s just a visual diary with added information if you decide to click on the picture. It’s nice to see what people like and enjoy rather than hear about it. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is great and I have all my friends and family on there, but I prefer Instagram.
I only mention Instagram because that is the site that comes to mind when I see all of these pictures, including selfies. Also, it’s the easiest one to manipulate. How easy it is to make your life seem so cool when all you have to do is post awesome pictures all of the time. You can do this on Facebook too, though. Assuming, your Facebook friends don’t really know you but it’s easier to do on Instagram. Seriously, you can be a positive role model by posting inspirational quotes by yourself or other people, gain a huge following by being a celebrity fan page, or gain a huge following by posting pictures of your travels all over the world.
So, what the psychology behind the picture or post? Maybe it is for attention, maybe it is for validation, and maybe it is for the likes. I have to admit that the likes are very much appreciated. However, for most people, I think these pictures and posts are used to tell a story. It’s a way of saying this is me, this is who I am, this is what I do or don’t like, these are the things I’ve done, these are the people I love, this is my family, etc. I enjoy looking through other people’s Instagram page. I can get a look inside of their lives and/or mind. Sure, they are probably only showing the best parts of their lives/selves, but they are also sharing their memories, their thoughts, and their special moments. It’s breathtaking. It’s beautiful. It’s “Picture Perfect.”
I once read in an article that all of our pictures have a way of redefining what’s beautiful as beauty is different in the eyes of the beholder. So, by taking a single picture, we allow someone the chance to examine what can also be beautiful. That photo of yourself that you secretly love, well by posting it you allow others to love it too. And that photo of yourself that you hate, well someone could love (find beauty) in that, too. So, go ahead, keep taking those pictures. Keep redefining what’s beautiful. Let the world see what beauty looks like through your eyes. Selfies included.
Challenge: Go for a week of posting pictures of boring everyday life and see how people respond to it. For the next week, post only awesome and cool pictures and see how people respond to that. Do people respond more to your everyday life or do people respond more to your “picture perfect” moments?