Dos and Donts of capturing your life on social networks.
It is as if without visual aid we do not exist. Look around you. There is someone documenting every move. Today,most people are so in love with themselves that they feel the need to capture,frame,freeze every achievement. And yes,getting out of bed these days is considered medal-worthy. So you can be sure that at this very moment a photograph is being taken to record that monumental act.
Evidently,as a nation with a fading memory both in the long term and short it seems we have no option but to record every minute detail of our lives,lest we forget. There is a famous line by the award-winning Sri Lankan author A Sivanandan in his book When Memory Dies,that says when memory dies a nation dies. Well,it is good to know that everyone in India is working together to ensure our story survives. Even though the banality of the tale essentially determines that the tale should be deleted before it is recorded.
The catalyst for this instamatic life is Facebook. Since you have to prove that your status update is better than your friends and friends of friends and others,everyones page is filled with posturing,preening,pretending and posing. The new cool is to fake your way through it. So dont be surprised if everyone has that one image with the sea in the backdrop and a kaftan billowing in the wind. Looking both artful and yet strangely slimming at the same time. Everyone is a fashion model. And therefore everyone is blah.
This hackneyed tonality is why I feel compelled to put down a code of conduct for imagination and imagery in the modern age. On FB,specifically. Its all very simple. Dont show off. No one liked you when you said,Lookatme,look at me, as a child. Trust me,it does not get more charming as you grow older. Actually,it is just more annoying. And grounds for being un-friended. People will hit like,but dont be fooled. They dont mean it. They are saving your image to share with friends and then they are going to laugh. At your vanity. And thats not a particularly good look to wear. In fact,its even worse than your by the beach side look.
Also,stop taking your own photographs. If someone wants to capture you for posterity,they will. But until then stop holding your phone away from you and hitting the camera icon. No angle is really flattering. And the narcissism is ugly. If not rude.
There are some good parts to this checklist too. Fun bits. Like making sure you pop up in other peoples photos,catching them unawares. Many years later when they are refreshing their memory the only way they know (ie through visual aids) they wont remember that they didnt know you. So you will be doing them a favour by gifting them a richer life than they recall. It is also kosher to post pictures of your pets. Cats are good. Dogs are even better. They show your compassionate side,plus you can never look bad with a pet in your arms.
There is one serious no no. The duck face. Dont do it. Not even when all your friends are doing it. You will end up on the antiduckface.com site And thats not a place you want to be. Not with a telling tag line that is pretty self-explanatory: because,no really,you look stupid. While the grammar is suspect,there is no arguing that sucking your cheeks in and then pouting doesnt make you look sexy. Think ridiculous,instead.
My partner and I have never taken photographs. Not of our holidays. Not of each other. I joke that we have no evidence of even being together. But we believe that it is best to experience life as it happens. And if we forget something on the way,then either it wasnt worth remembering or you have a terrible memory. Either way,what counts is how it made you feel. And that lasts a little longer. I mean what happens if the pen drive/cloud you stored all your lifes images in crashes? Does it mean all your memories die because you never really remembered them?
Nonita Kalra is currently working on a project with GCPL. She was the editor-in-chief of Elle and is still only impressed by people who mind their Ps and Qs