So I promise you this post isn’t trying to piggyback off the success(?) of ABC’s new show, but hey, if it gets me traffic, who am I to complain?
There are tons of arguments out there against selfies. That they add to our society’s narcissism. That people are taking them at really inappropriate times. And this might be a fair assessment, but I look at it this way: if someone wants to find a way to express themselves, they’re going to. This generation’s way of doing it is selfies. And it’s not like we haven’t done this before (Polaroid selfies ftw).
But today, I write in defense of the selfie. And this is why.
For my parents’ twentieth anniversary, I thought it would be nice to get twenty pictures of them from throughout their marriage to put into a matted picture frame. My parents’ anniversary was in mid-December, so I had to find a day when my brother and I were home and they were out to go through photos and pick out the best ones. It was a hurried affair, as we didn’t have much time before they got home, so I didn’t notice the size of the pile as I went through. I pretty much just threw anything aside that might vaguely count, figuring I’d go through them later after they went to bed.
Wait, did I say “pile”? I really meant a complete lack of pile.
In the 20 years of marriage my parents had had prior to that point, there were 16 pictures. I’m not including any formal Olan Mills’ family shots. I mean candids and home photos.
But why? Why would there be so few? My parents were together constantly. Neither traveled much for work (Dad had the occasional Navy TEMDU, but that was about it), and nearly both always went on vacation together. You’d think there would be more photographic evidence of their marriage. My mom has had a beautiful film SLR my whole life and was the photographer of the family. I had just been through bags and bags of old photos and found a mere 16.
Mom always took the pictures in the family. The few pictures of my mom separately from my dad were from the random times he would grab the camera to make sure there was at least one picture of Mom from our trip (usually so my grandparents could see it). There are lots of pictures of me/Mom/bro and me/Dad/bro, but very few of the four of us together.
Now, I’m sure if I went to my aunts and uncles, I could have found many more photos. But in my parents’ personal collection, in twenty years, there were so few pictures chronicling their life together.
I’d give anything to have some ridiculous pictures of my parents in their 20s and early 30s.
So why write this post, and why now? I just sent on a seven day road trip with my partner from Blacksburg, VA to Boston, MA. Seven days together is an eternity when you’re in a long distance relationship (He’s in SoCal; I’m in SoVa). When you have so few moments together throughout a year, everything suddenly becomes more important. So yes, I have pictures of our food, of that horribly amazing round of Cards Against Humanity that Rando Cardrissian won, of our family and friends.
And of course, of us.
Then, there are the ones that your mother gets pissed at you for:
But then, when you get it right, it makes her so happy:
Yeah, we’re (and by “we” I mean those of us lucky enough to have cell phones…) taking more photos these days. Front-facing cameras and the fact that you don’t have to pay to develop film mean we’re photodocumenting our lives at a much larger rate of speed. But I hope that when my kids (G-d willing) are going through old photos, whether it be for my 50th birthday or my retirement from teaching at the ripe old age of 80, they will have evidence of a happy life, full of friends, family, and love.
So if the selfie is the only way I can take a picture with my partner near the Robin Williams memorial in the Boston Public Gardens:
Or during one of my best friend’s wedding reception:
Then, I’m going to do it. And when I go through the photos with someone else, I’ll have a story I can put with each photo. A snippet of a memory, captured in pixels (or if I can actually get myself to CVS, ink!).
So I stand firmly in support of the selfie. Selfies, you’re alright.