Guest Post by: Meghan Brady
It seems that anyone nowadays can be a “photographer.” Whether it is with a smart phone or with a thousand dollar DSLR camera, people are constantly taking pictures. At concerts, everyone has Snapchat open, adding each song to his or her “Snapchat Story.” At my friend’s birthday party on Saturday, as she was blowing out the candles on her cake, I looked up to see seven iPhones capturing the moment. She has been blowing out birthday candles for 21 years, so I promise it did not look very different.
I often wonder why our culture is obsessed with documenting every moment. Why do we think that each time we go out to dinner, we need verification from other people through Instagram likes that we, in fact, are accepted by posting a picture of your expensive food? Engagements in this day in age seem to not even happen if a photographer hiding in the bushes doesn’t capture the moment. I forget what it feels like to go somewhere with a group of friends and not have group photos before we leave. A “selfie stick” was invented so we could stand on vast mountaintops, in front of beautiful safaris, or in front of the Indian Ocean and fill the frame with our faces instead of nature.
The negative implications are obvious: in our culture we seek attention from others within their social sphere, creating the need and desire for constant acceptance. It’s nearly impossible to escape the obsession. This addiction to social attention has seeped into our minds and has casted a skewed vision on our lives, one that consists of solely pleasing others. It is ruled by doing things and buying things for the sole purpose of making others feel good about you.
But there’s danger here. There is a lot, in fact. I fear a generation that simply acts on the desires of others—to fit in. Do people that fit in change the world? If we are all walking in sync to the same bad tempo, will we be aware enough to point out issues? Will this desire for social attention and acceptance seep into other areas of our lives—ones where we need discernment and criticism in order to move forward?
Now, maybe this seems like I am blowing this out of proportion. Maybe I am making assumptions. But maybe, just maybe, we are on the road to a society that simply cares about fitting in and being liked. Being liked by people we know, and by people we have never met before. I understand it is easy to criticize our generation for the way we have become. But I see a slippery slope that we are headed down as soon as we put our reputation before our values.