OK, so I have been a bit quiet of late – but for reasons that will be revealed soon enough, and which should explain my literary tardiness sufficiently for me to avoid the wrath of the reading public. Except Nichola – whose pesky wrath has hauled me out of writing laziness and back to these pages. Wrath sent all the way from Japan for that matter. Wrath being the theme of the moment then, I will jump tenuously from that topic to an account of irksome irritation with the Facebook generation recording their lives more than actually living them.
The train of thought departed the station with reading What Tyler Durden’s Philosophy Teaches us About Travel and reflecting on the extent to which social pressure and a desire to be seen and heard in the noise around us can make us stop actually feeling and learning from experiences. Finding a friend on facebook with over a thousand pics of themself on their profile and another with something in the order of a hundred albums of events they had been to finally tipped this post into being written.
Now I like photography, I really, really do – but in very few of my own photos do I ever appear. And there is a reason for this. I like the idea of photography as an art form, as a creative capture of places, light and feeling to bring about certain thoughts and ideas from what I have managed to catch in the lens of the camera. And I do not regard myself as central or even useful to composing many (possibly any) of those images. Indeed, holiday pics where the traveler in question is flipping off the peace sign in front of every monk/temple/gorgeous sunset have always struck me as the photographic equivalent of a dog marking its territory. I know I was in Thailand because I can remember the fact. And I know I saw X temple at sunrise because the pictures I have of it reflect that beautifully. I know I was there because I was behind the lens, trying to get the most out of the moment to capture what it meant to me.
I don’t want to slather derision on photo-territory-marking too much, as I can understand the motivation – to a degree – behind it, but the cult of personal aggrandizement through the posed photo seems to now be reaching epic proportions. It may be a South African-specific phenomenon, but all too frequently a night out at a bar/nightclub/hotdog stand will be frequently punctuated by the inevitable contrived pose of a clutch of fools smiling preparedly at the camera held by the slowest of the party to get in on the picture, or (worse) by the outstretched paw of the photographer-in-chief.
A quick stroll through any social media service really does make me wonder if we are not perhaps becoming a generation more obsessed with recording life than actually living it. Is it not more important to go to a place and see it, learn from it and take an experience away than it is to document that you were there for your social circle to comment on? The answer seems obvious – but if it is so obvious, why do we persist in reducing what are all too often our most interesting moments to little more than a staged photoshoot.
End rant. Inspiring stuff next time, and more on the secret project. If you like the travel bloggy stuff, you will hopefully really like this.