I don't have an Instagram. Or a Twitter, or a Snapchat, or a LinkedIn, or, honestly, a Facebook. But, alas, control your shock - I'm ahead of myself.
Since the first days of this digital disco we've been high on since the early aughts, staying up all night to AIM incessantly with friends about nothing, updating Myspace About Me profiles with silly quotes and depressing lyrics du jour, hunting for the perfect Facebook profile photo, Tumbling, tweeting, Instagramming. A machine of digital doers.
So what is it, other than clearly being a no fun having serial killer, that's kept me from jumping on the social media bandwagon? From professing my thoughts to the world and shoving my photos and spare change thoughts in the faces of any and all?
The first answer that comes to mind most readily is that personally, I value the privacy of my life far too much to pass out my vacation albums and daily sights.
I refuse to crop the way I see the world. My friends, my family.
As personal as people may profess "sharing apps" like Instagram to be, I'm just not buying. To me, seeing someone's photos in that context, like an unsolicited mini-billboard easily driven by with the swipe of a finger, is a bit of an empty gesture. If you don't agree, just think for a moment instead of when someone sends you a photo via text or email. Just to you, just for you. That right there is a connecting gesture, a real feeling of worth. What a lovely thing that is. An intimate exchange which could not be more unlike the mass barrage of public posting.
To be clear, I've no judgment whatsoever of those who choose to live a filtered, carefully captioned life. For in reality, who am I to say that's not still a life well-lived? Honestly, someone in the world needs to have fun with all this technology - because God knows I won't.
But still, I find it a host for indulgent, anti-productive fumes.
To constantly concern myself passively with the goings on of others - comparing the photogenic nature of my brunch to theirs, how Boomerang-able my friends and I may be acting, how I even see a sunset. It seems every app or site starts off as a casual, post-without-thinking, uninterrupted way to timeline your day and yourself, but quickly evolves into a far more edited realm of anxious posts begging to be liked. How many times have you thought of deleting a less-than-liked photo? And how many times have you actually done it?
We edit ourselves, and then let the apps edit us as well, with algorithms that push us around the feeds of our friends and rank how interesting we appear.
I don't need an Instagram because I prefer to caption my life organically with witty and non-witty remarks - lines that hit and miss and miss again, unable to be edited. Words which come not in some staccato, stop and start fashion where five concerted minutes will pass to conceive of the perfect, over-thought remark to oversimplify everything.
That separation, that pause - however short or quick, that's death, no? That rush hour highway driving way of going through life doesn't slow you down to let you view things more carefully, but slows you down to shorten the overall distance you'll go. Snapping ten shots, then immediately gathering round to reminisce about two seconds ago. To pick apart a photo led by insecurity and second-guesses.
And sure, there is definitely something interesting in it. In that instinctively organized coming together to decide how to define and package that experience you just shared. To look at a photo and see everything that you missed. The colors of the setting, your friend's funny face, how awkward your hands are when you're standing. But all things you easily could have seen should you have actually looked around, instead of focusing on the bullet hole eye of an iPhone.
Perhaps I overly romanticize the present. But at least I don't overly romanticize the past.
Perhaps I'm just as slowed down by my refusing to share and live and have fun, be fun, with all of these new media movements. But still - for me, there are no Instagrammable moments. Nothing so precious or amazing that I would untie its magic in trying to crowd in everyone I've ever met to take a look.
No Instgrammable moments, just moments to be had and enjoyed and sat in a memory that will inevitably forget their closer qualities, their small details. A natural inevitability which is okay.
My life does not need to be "shot on iPhone 6" for me to remember it. Nor does it need to be liked by many to be liked by me. But then again, that's just my unsolicited two cents.