No Obligation to Participate


It bothers me a lot when people try to persuade me to be photographed when I’ve expressed a desire not to be.

Don’t, “Come on, Katie!” me. Don’t put an arm around my shoulder and try to physically force me into your group photo. I’m coming to a point in life when I honestly might shove you off of me because I don’t think you have any right to try to physically force me to do anything. How did forced photography become a socially-acceptable thing? If you tried to physically make me do anything else, I’d probably scream, “Rape!” and be totally justified. So don’t touch me.

Also, have you noticed that the people who are most likely to try to get you into a photo are the ones you’ve just met? Really? I hardly know you and you’re putting your hands on me. “Not cool, Robert Frost!”

Now, okay, I get that folks think I don’t want to be photographed because I’m insecure about my appearance, which is the simplest and shallowest version of the truth.

The truth is that I am only insecure about the way I look when I’m inundated with photos of myself and others who are more photogenic/attractive than I am. Most of the time, I don’t have any clue what I look like, which seems healthy to me. I don’t know what so-and-so posted on Facebook, I can’t be tagged or even view photos on Facebook, and I don’t care. Nor do I want to care. I want to live in a time when mirrors don’t even exist. Because we are way too preoccupied with our reflections.

Also, people feel like I’m somehow missing out when I don’t take photos. Funny thing – I think they’re missing out while they are taking photos.

I honestly have the snarky thought pretty much every time someone takes a picture of anything, and it goes,

“Heaven forbid you experience this without documentation of it.”

“Heaven forbid your friends have to infer the extent to which you participate in life.”

“Heaven forbid you have to tell stories when your vacation ends.”

Yes, I am suggesting that the value of an experience doesn’t lie in another person’s impression of it, nor can the value be measured by the number of pixels in which it was captured.

I’ve not missed out on life. I’m confident of that fact.

I honestly have very little evidence that this life has bee well-lived other than the invisible happenings in my brain, but I suspect that most of the people who take photos of everything do so because they are not at all sure they’ve lived. Photos are this weird way of proving to self and others that things have happened and I was there to see it. Therefore, this life is worthy of… well, who knows what? – admiration?

That’s why I don’t want to be in your photo… because I don’t think you’re less likely to remember my part of the experience without the photo. If you don’t remember that I was there, then we probably didn’t share much of the experience, so why does it matter if you remember my part of it? I know I was there. I remember it. I lived it. Isn’t that enough?

Finally, your photography is obnoxious. It is. I want to look at the landscape. I want to feel the air. I want to enjoy the people.

And your photography gets in the way.

Staging some sort of pose is bullshit to me. What you’re doing is asking me to try to pause the un-pause-able, put my hand on my hip so everyone can see my physique at its best, and hope God is aware that we’re on pause and therefore, stops everything for this inauthentic moment in time to be recorded.

Leave me alone.

Let me look around and see.

Let me stand off to the side while you ensure your legacy. I’m already confident in my own.

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