I've been thinking a lot about something that has been sort of tickling the back of my brain for about a week or so. It's not a huge thing, but maybe it is, and that's why it's been with me. It's a simple sentence, so often seen on the Book of Faces comments and the Tweeterverse: Pics, or it didn't happen.
I get it. Someone is talking about a great weekend they had with a surprise friend. Or they're discussing how much they love their outfit that day. Or they mention that they ran into the Incredible Hulk on the street. The first response is often "pics or it didn't happen" or similar.
Your friend just got a new puppy? Of COURSE you want to see pictures of his adorable, slobbery face. It's even better if it's a video of how he keeps stepping on his own ears while trying to drink out of the water bowl. Your brother had a new baby? We LOVE babies! Show us the baby! Your dress got you a few compliments on the subway? Show me this dress (and link where you bought it and exactly how much you paid and I want to order one, too!). Okay that last part was a little further than most people go, but I love a good bargain on a dress that garners compliments. I'm like that. Look, if you've known me for any period of time or read any of the many thoughts I've had about pictures and my appearance and my constant insecurity about how I look, then you might understand why I tend to be in very few of the pictures I post. Sure I had that one blog post about how I know that a dress or a specific outfit isn't going to change my body type, and that's cool. And I read that great piece a couple of years ago about the mom who realized she had to get over those insecurities to be in pictures with her kids so they'd have them later in life when they wanted them. I'm down with all of that.
But then, there's this friend of mine who has an awesome 2 year old, whom I love and regard as part of my own extended family, and they have no pictures of him online. I get an email update every couple of weeks with pictures of him. I'm lucky, because I get to see him a lot in person. But when the emails first started coming, I admit, I had that "this would be easier with a protected "friends only" post on the Book of Faces. But it's their kid, so it's their choice. Certainly, I've plastered many a picture of my own kid all over the interwebs.
And I'll admit, I've been the one to post the demand for pictures. Hey, I like puppies and babies, what can I say? But a friend of mine expressed to me her frustration with the demands for pictures. And I finally got it. Sometimes your hair turns out awesome and you're happy enough to announce it online, but you don't want to take a picture because your makeup looks wonky. Or your dress is gorgeous but you wore the wrong shoes. Or, more specifically, you just don't want to post a picture of yourself.
We've all seen the critical way photos are viewed on the internet. We've seen the memes with the babies with funny expressions on their faces, the women wearing "unflattering" outfits, and the poorly (or perfectly) timed shots that catch that crazy face that lends itself to slapping some text on the photo and sharing it all over the net. Below is a screen shot of some of the stuff you can find if you do a google image search for "memes." About half of those are real people's pictures someone found on the internet.
More than that, though, we're critical by nature. We see a picture of an ex and think, "man, look at that hair, what a disaster." A friend who slighted us in the past, "did you see that picture of her and how OLD she looks" we say to our other friends. A friend of a friend is wearing something of which we don't approve and we're quick to, at least mentally, say "whoa, those are not the right pants, buddy."
Look, you want to put pictures of yourself on the internet, do it and do it with gusto. You have that choice. But you also have the choice not to. Even if you're bragging about your great hair or cute manicure. It's okay if you don't want to plaster your kid all over the internet. And you know what? It's okay if you do. The decision to post a picture of your latest escapade is yours and yours alone. Don't let some idiot like me pressure you into putting up a picture you don't want to share. Don't regret posting up a picture that you didn't want to, and don't be afraid to post up a picture you do want to. It's up to you.
"Pics or it didn't happen" is part of our instant gratification, give me what I want, it must all live on that internet billboard lifestyle that has become our lives on social media these days. It's okay for some people and not for others. I think I'm going to stop pressuring people with that insistence on pictures. A friend tells me her dress looks great today, I'm going to say "good for you!" Another friend tells me about how cute his new dog is, I'll congratulate him on making the choice to take on the responsibility. Cousins have a baby? Congrats, guys, can't wait to see the Christmas card this year. Mostly, I think I just need to stop pressuring people to SHOW me everything. I think I'm going to work on just taking their word for it.