Sometimes I think about the ease with which we can document the minutiae of our daily routines. It seems like it’s changing the way we store memories, and I’m conflicted about whether or not that’s a good thing. Like many others, I use social media, and I take photos with my phone. Because it is still the easiest app to use for editing and sharing photos on the fly, Instagram has become a bit of a habit.
I am aware that through the simple act of pausing and taking a photo, we’re altering the experience and casting an editorial glance that changes our perception. I understand the disruptive nature of documenting, and it’s something I try to think about a bit more. I do my best not to be egregious with photo taking, and having been reprimanded on some occasions, reach for my phone as little as possible while out with friends. I’m also starting to come to terms with the fact that our way of experiencing and interpreting life is going through a major shift. I’m curious about our relationship to these photos when we look at them at a later point. Am I, in fact, preserving a memory when I take a photo? Or am I crafting a somewhat altered, carefully edited and selected version of a moment, so that in retrospect, it seems more ambiguous and interesting, almost cinematic? Maybe a little bit of both.
While taking snapshots of the everyday may be an exercise in self satisfaction, there is also a benefit to it. Looking through my set of pictures, what I see is a life that often has lovely, interesting moments. The fact is, these snapshots are still a documentation of at least some degree of reality. I am reminded that my life often has moments of joy, creativity, learning, and comfort. Given the human tendency towards dwelling on the negative, I am OK reflecting on only the positive moments I choose to capture. Bad experiences and frustrating memories will find their way to us regardless, so why not balance it out with something pleasant.
How do you feel about documenting daily moments in pictures? Do you think it’s a reliable way to record memories? What do you feel when you look back through your photos?