If A Girl Goes Out With Her Friends And No One Bothers To Instagram It, Did It Really Happen?

nophotoI’ve never been one of these girls who goes crazy with her camera. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who turn every single scenario into a photo opportunity? If they’re not choreographing a “cheers!” pic before you down your shots, they’re keeping you from eating your food until they’ve snapped the entire table’s entrees. You’ll see them mostly in bars or restaurants but the worst offenders can take the most mundane of situations and create an Instagram extravaganza.

Let me give you an example. I work with a girl, who while very sweet, manages to drive everyone nuts with her constant calls for “picture time!” It never ends. Recently we had a staff meeting after work. Nothing special about it, but apparently worthy of grabbing the maintenance guy and having him take this:

Afterwork

See how excited I was to be included? Naturally it ended up on Facebook within a matter of minutes.

Fire

Not long after our work meeting, there was a fire drill. I’m not sure why photographic evidence was warranted, yet there it is. The point I’m getting at, is that there are some people who just feel compelled to document every waking moment of their lives as if given they didn’t, they may cease to exist all together. I’ve never understood it.

Until recently.

Since starting this blog, my brain has been operating in a very different capacity. A particularly annoying one to be exact. Any time I go anywhere and anything is happening I’m thinking “Is this something I can write about?” You may struggle to believe what I’m about to tell you, but my life isn’t any more interesting than yours. Yet as someone who has chosen to write openly about it on a regular basis, I have to constantly come up with stuff that I hope people will want to read. So now when I’m at a bar watching sports with my brother, I’m fairly easy to spot because no doubt, I’ll be the douchebag taking a picture of the TV screen.

football

Hey, you never know? I may want to do a post about how pathetic my knowledge of football is given my awkward enthusiasm for it. (Stay tuned) However, it is now impossible for me to do anything fun without the constant urge to whip out my camera and start collecting proof.

Cut to this past Friday night. Vanna was in town and together with my friend Jackie, we actually made a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant to be followed by drinks at an even fancier rooftop lounge. I can’t remember the last time I had dinner reservations so it was pretty exciting but as soon as we sat down I began feeling anxious.

The place was sooooo cool! It was super charming and there was weird stuff everywhere and they even put a framed sign on the table that read part in English and part in Russian “Waiting For Kelly”. I mean they converted my name into RUSSIAN! How the fuck was I not going to take a picture of this?!

But the more I thought about how I could turn the evening into a story, the more stressed out I became. I would have to take pictures of the dining room instead of look at the menu and then when the food came, I would have to arrange it just right so that it was shot from the perfect perspective. It was a total hassle. So even though I was initially uncomfortable putting my camera away, I decided it was in my better interest. If no one knew I went to dinner one night, I would probably still live the rest of my life being relatively happy.

Now I know I’m not blowing any minds with my topic here. Certainly phone etiquette, especially when it comes to putting down your cameras and enjoying the actual experience of existing, has been a heavily covered issue for some time. I just want to relate my personal experience. Once the pressure was off to relay what was happening over the course of the evening, I was able to breathe in the beauty of the moment itself. And the fact that my friends on Facebook and Instagram weren’t going to see how much fun I was having, wasn’t going to make our dinner less valid. (Especially since I could always write a thousand word essay about it on my blog)

Jeff

Without this incredibly serious photo of the two of us to prove that we were out, would it have been worth even going in the first place?

And really, who would have cared? Last year on Jeff’s fortieth birthday we went to a super posh lounge. I was so taken with the place that I couldn’t stop snapping photos. However, I haven’t seen them since and I’ve never bothered to show anyone because why would anyone want to look? Is it not the biggest cliche that it’s a drag to sift through other people’s pictures? The only reason anyone does it on Facebook or Instagram is because it’s only slightly less mind-numbing than actually working. But no one’s going to miss a pic of a bunch of martinis pushed together if it’s never posted. I can’t remember a single thing that Jeff and I talked about that night but I distinctly recall the stress of needing to get a shot of the rooftop pool. And for what?

So I’ve come up with a solution. From now on, I’m going to decide ahead of time if the plans I have are picture worthy. I’m going to ask myself, is what’s happening tonight really going to be so interesting that I need to show my friends? Will anyone want to watch a one minute, unintelligible, shaky clip from me at a concert or care to see a picture of a group of us in a hotel lounge? Am I even going to want look at most of this stuff a year from now? Probably not. On those occasions I can just relax and have a good time. Before I even leave the house, I’m going to make the decision that my night will be purely for fun and for my eyes only.

Just like I did with Jackie and Vanna. Under normal circumstances, I would have a bunch of photos to prove to you how amazing our night was, but you’ll just have to take my word for it, because I didn’t take any.

  • http://whyimcray.blogspot.com/ AwesomelyOZ

    That’s why I decided my blog isn’t focused on photos at this time, otherwise I’d obsess.. I’m already OCD about random observations and whether they’re note-worthy or not. I like to be able to just focus on the writing and research aspect, people are too obsessed with photos. I am not the biggest social media junkie because its too much connectivity all the time and everything has to be documented through a photo. We all need to disconnect, and especially when you’re with your friends – F*** the camera and focus on having another drink and holding someones hair back! Umm.. why aren’t I in any of these photos!?!? Sike, Happy Monday Kelly!

    -Iva

    • Kelly

      I definitely struggle with social media. Especially with having a blog and having to present on it all the time. I give myself the weekends off. No one’s looking at that shit when they’re not at work anyway.

  • http://www.chimerikal.com Erika

    Love this, as usual! I am so inconsistent with photo-taking. Sometimes I’ll be all obnoxiously on my phone and taking photos of EVERYTHING but a lot of times, I am like you and I just decide to enjoy the moment. What this means is: I usually take pictures of things I don’t necessarily need to remember and then don’t take out my camera at really good moments. It’s a problem. Haha. I like the guidelines you set for yourself, though! I may need to try them!

    • Kelly

      I do the same thing! More than getting better at not taking pictures, I need to get better at deciphering WHEN to take them.

  • http://metamorphocity.com/ Sarah

    I can relate to this. I’m wildly inconsistent with my photo posts, because about half the time even if I’ve lugged my giant camera out with me, I can’t be bothered to interrupt whatever fun I’m having to document it. My parents, however, are my own personal paparazzi. They were here this weekend for Nuit Blanche and I don’t know if they saw anything through their own bare eyes. It was really weird.

    • Kelly

      Exactly! I spent all this money on a fancy camera and I swear sometimes I will have it slung in the bag over my shoulder and just whip out my iphone because I don’t feel like going through the trouble of unzipping, turning on, removing lens cap, adjusting aperture/ISO/shutter speed and finding focus. Screw that. I’ll just use Instagram.

  • Gabriele Davieds

    I had Chuck’s family over for a Labor Day barbeque weekend. I accidently forgot my camera. Then I thought, who cares, I took great pictures of everyone last year…gave them out as gifts, which made a big hit. So…no need for them this year…and enjoyed the day. Except that I set a beauuutiful table, and wished I had a picture of that. Don’t ask. Just keep records of some of my festivitie settings.

  • http://www.awashwithwonder.com Shannon

    This is partly why I try to never write about actual events in my life. Coming up with blog posts for me normally means exploring an idea I had rather then a thing I lived. I’ve been going to a lot of concerts recently and it’s CRAZY the amount of people taking photos of it instead of just, I don’t know, dancing? Listening to the music? This past week at a show, the two girls next to me spent the entire time taking selfies and asking people around them to take photos of them. Not even of the band! Just photos of themselves which they could have taken in their bedroom.

    But then sometimes something really interesting will happen and it’ll stress me out so much thinking about how to write about it while I’m still living it. The other day I was at lunch and randomly ended up getting a tarot card reading from the woman sitting next to me, and I literally felt like I had to rush home immediately to write about it. But then I realized that there was no way to tell the story without talking about a lot of people in my life on the internet….which is something I decided never to do explicitly. Trying to tell the story kind of ruined the weird serendipity of that moment.

    This is a really long comment to basically say: I agree with everything you just wrote!

    • Kelly

      I love the tarot card story. What an interesting thing to have happen. Sometimes I just keep those bits for myself and they’re just as good that way. Thanks Shannon!

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  • http://doyouever.net Amber

    I am the biggest hypocrite when it comes to this. In my mind, I am well-balanced young adult who knows how to use social media, is thoughtful about how it affects me and purposeful about how I use it. In practice, I’m usually like “SCREW IT THIS IS SO ARTSY I HAV 2 INSTAGRAM EVRYTHNG!”

    It’s so true that it can so easily take away from actually enjoying the moment itself, rather than focusing on the moment’s translation into an instagram photo and how many likes your photo gets.

    You’ve probably seen the “I forgot my phone” video already, but in case you haven’t… this post reminded me of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8

    Maybe we should all try to forget our phone more often…

  • http://www.createpositivespin.com Allison

    Thank you for the reminder to be photo-absent. While I love taking photos, it definitely comes in spurts and is only inspired at certain times (like coffee shops, for some reason). Nice to live a little, too.

  • yoli

    This is definitely something I have struggled with too, as someone who’s not really into taking pictures of people, because living in the moment! And I need to take 3 shots in case one of them is blurry–one of them is ALWAYS blurry–and no one has time for that. But your idea of planning ahead to decide if it’s “a picture night” and proceeding accordingly really helps. That and friends like your coworker who you can count on to document everything and then share the pictures. :)