Hayley Brooks & Ali Kokot | Protesting the picture perfect
Think Twice | Spring break has exposed our constant need to capture
March 13, 2012, 12:19 am · Updated March 14, 2012, 11:40 pm·
Haley Brooks & Ali Kokot
We had the craziest spring break trip. Don’t take our word for it? Just wait for the pictures. And we know that you’re waiting.
After all, we’re waiting for yours too.
No need to consult Mr. Zuckerberg — we have no doubts that Facebook traffic peaks post-spring break when we obsessively stalk each other’s latest escapades. You can pretend it’s only curiosity, but at the end of the day, you really want to know how your adventures virtually stack up.
Whose eyes looked better against the marble-blue horizon?
We eagerly anticipate seeing our pictures surface so we can relive our ridiculous moments over and over again, while of course cropping the moments that captured us at unflattering angles.
But to be honest, we’re just waiting to exhibit our pictures to our thousands of Facebook friends in order to brag/prove just how awesome our trip was. We’ve got the hard evidence, people. It was so fun! We promise?
Upon self reflection, we have to ask ourselves why we care so much about whether or not you thought we had a killer vacation. Isn’t our personal validation enough?
The gems in our latest album not only archive our trip, they also shape our greater online presence. Like the picture-perfect prom snapshot, we’re all aware of the universal trope for what a successful spring break is supposed to be. We subconsciously strive to project our experience as being as close to that model as possible.
But this mentality surpasses spring break. It’s a constant, deliberate process of altering how others perceive us: making sure that for every photo of us holding a red Solo cup, there’s a photo of us with Mom and Dad so people understand we’re equal parts fun and family. It’s a self-managed identity.
Let’s take the profile picture as a case study. If we break it down, we’re all putting on the same show. Profile picture trends go in and out of fashion, but here we have the winners:
• The Halloween hottie photo
• The precious baby photo
• The philanthropy photo
• The self-deprecating photo
• The besties photo
(The besties with testes photo)
• The rage photo
• The almost kiss
• The action shot — circa high school soccer season
• The artsy sunset photo
• The cute animal photo
Surely more than one of these sound familiar.
As The New York Times blog Motherlode’s post last week entitled, “For Teenage Girls, Facebook Always Means Being Camera-Ready” explains, “Generally, the preoccupation with ‘How do I look?’ may well be getting in the way of living authentically.” Facebook is the new hall of mirrors, constantly forcing us to confront the mortality … of our hair extensions.
So what’s the moral here? Stop being so concerned with how others perceive your vacation and focus on how you see it. Satisfaction ultimately comes from making the most of your own experiences, not having over a hundred photos of yourself mid-jump on a beach.
Communication professor Ken Winneg, who teaches a class on New Media and Politics, said “studies are showing that people are spending so much time online that they are not being part of the world.”
Admittedly, we’re guilty of this as well. We realize that we’ve missed out on living in the moment because it seemed more important that our iPhones captured our good side.
And in throwing ourselves under the bus, we hope you’ll own up too.
Let’s use Facebook less and strive to be more in the moment. Instead of posing for the photo, next time, dance like no one’s watching.
Hayley Brooks and Ali Kokot are College sophomores from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and New York, N.Y., respectively. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Think Twice appears every Tuesday.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Mark Zuckerberg’s name