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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Lose the Camera, Party with Friends

By SUSANNAH CLARK

It’s a Saturday night at Mary Washington. You are a single white female. You spent the first half of the evening primping and posing for digital photos with your girlfriends in the dorm. The second half of your evening is spent at a party at a house off-campus. The carpet is stained, the keg is tapped, and the boys are wrapped up in beer pong. So what do you do?

Take digital pictures of yourself, and immediately delete the ones that don’t come out right.

Now that everyone comes armed to social events with digital cameras, I’m beginning to wonder if social interaction has just become an excuse to get more photos tagged on Facebook.com.

People seem to care more about showing people that they had fun over the weekend than actually enjoying themselves.

Phrases like “Tag me!” and “OMG that is totally my new user pic!” have entered the vernacular. With the convenience and universality provided by digital cameras comes an addiction to instant gratification.

The power to see our photos seconds after they have been taken has spoiled us. We can now pick and choose the world’s visual perception of us to a tee.

After a photo is taken, people huddle around the camera to evaluate the product. Often times the same photo will be taken several times because so-and-so’s neck looked too thick and Joe the Plumber wasn’t looking at the camera.

The democratization of the digital camera has given us too much freedom. The candid beauty that comes with imperfection has been deleted with the click of a trash button.

Facebook photos are less for preserving memory and more for building self-obsession. Though, I will mention that others use last night’s photos on Facebook as a tool to actually remember their drunken shenanigans.

There are currently 880 photos of me tagged on Facebook.com. No, wait, 881. I went hiking this past weekend.

The past three years of my life have been documented through digital photos, and Facebook has archived my life to the public. Everything from Prom to freshman move-in day to me getting a tattoo can be viewed by any minor acquaintance I consider a “friend.”

In an unsuccessful attempt to avoid vanity, I went about clicking through all 881 photos of myself, a grueling task I do not wish upon anyone. While I consider myself a fairly expressive person, I definitely don’t have 900 different faces.

Along with classic group photos where I have the same fake smile plastered on my face, I’ve found that there are a lot of pictures tagged where I am getting kissed on the cheek. I don’t know what that means. There are also a lot of pictures where I am intentionally looking away from the camera, probably in a self conscious attempt to appear mysterious.

The amount of photos posted of me is quite obnoxious, yet I make no effort to untag them.

What am I trying to prove? That I do in fact have friends? Or that I actually have a life outside of looking at people’s Facebook profiles?

My own digital camera has started to gather dust this year; I’ve put it away in an attempt to escape simultaneous vanity and insecurity.

I am making a grave effort to focus on living my life rather than documenting it. My tagging rate has gone down significantly. There is hope.

So as Homecoming parties start blowing up this weekend, maybe you should consider leaving your camera at home. See how much you remember, and more importantly, see how much fun you had without photographic evidence.