I come to you this evening with a little impromptu post. Its been playing on my mind so as always, I like to write it down and open it for discussion and other people’s views. This post was kicked off in my head, by something that happened on my recent trip to Prague, but is something that has been wandering around in my brain for a while. Its the fact that in these days where social media rules, “normal” no longer cuts the mustard. I saw it in the most visual way in Prague one morning, so Im curious on your views on this. When did normal become unacceptable? We have all heard the saying, “doing it for the gram” right? But how far is too far? Let me tell you the story of what we observed the morning in question.
We had been told that the sun rise over the city of Prague is beautiful, so, as we are determined to absorb everything and anything from our trips and experiences, we decided to set an alarm and get up to go and chase one. Why not eh! Setting out just after 6, we strolled from our hotel through the Old Square, to watch the sunrise from Charles Bridge. The streets were so quiet and peaceful. The early dawn was beautiful. You know that stillness that occurs before the world wakes up? The birds just start their morning song. The street lights begin to stand down from their night duties. The city slowly begins to stretch its legs and yawn. I love that time of day do you? Walking under the beautiful tower of the bridge, our eyes were everywhere. Looking down on the river, looking back at the light rising over the back of the skyline of the gorgeous buildings. We were loving the show that nature was putting on.
As we walked onto the bridge, another couple, obviously thinking about enjoying the sunrise, the same as us, were bustling their way onto the bridge. They walked a little in front of us, and as we were looking across the river at the paddle boat starting to slowly chug up the river, we looked back along the bridge to see that the couple had set up a tripod, full camera and rig etc. Curious, we watched them, and we became a little fascinated. The man was setting up the shot. Lovely I thought, nice sunrise shot. But then, he started running backwards and forwards to his girlfriend, who promptly got in her position of leaning forward for a kiss, lifting her leg up all cutesy, their hands linked between them, and him leaning forward for the kiss. The object I suppose, being to create a photo with the sunrise coming up behind them, while they shared an “impromptu kiss” that just so happened to be caught on camera. This photoshoot went on for ages! He was running backwards and forwards setting the camera timer, her looking to see if they had got the shot she obviously wanted. It looked exhausting, and they cannot have really seen a moment of the sunrise! He was looking through the lens, she had her back to the sunrise at every moment.
(Just to add a little note here, we looked under Prague hashtags the day after to see if we could see any of these photos and found the one from the couple above. The caption said something along the line of “stroll across the bridge in the beautiful sunrise with my man”) We did laugh.
Moving further across the bridge, we then ran into two girls. One was setting up her camera, the other girl was changing. Yep, it was minus two and she was changing from her wooly hat, coat and cosy boots. In place of those items she was putting on over the knee, heeled boots, a long embroidered coat and a felt hat. She was then standing in a “stepping” pose, facing away from her friend, being directed on exactly how and where she should be standing. Again, no acknowledgment or appreciation of the sunrise or the City revealing its details. Just all about the “just casually strolling across the bridge” shot. Further still across the bridge, another pair of girls. This time the girl was changing out of her coat, hat and boots into a flimsy floral dress, stilettos and a huge floppy hat. Again, she was doing a “nonchalant” pose, leaning against one of the lamp posts, just whimsically looking up at the statues. The perfect “insta-pose”
Nik was asking me what the hell was going on. He was shocked that these people were changing on the middle of the bridge, in the freezing cold, as dawn was breaking. My husband, who has no interest of knowledge whatsoever about social media, (he strongly feels it should be banned lol) was gobsmacked when I explained to him that they were probably “doing it for the gram” It was a very strange concept to him. He couldnt understand why someone would be so intent on getting this make believe photo, that they missed the actual beauty going on around them. When we were sitting in the coffee shop at the end of the bridge, we chatted about it. It made us sad that these people clearly felt that just being in their warm clothes, enjoying the sunrise was not a worthy enough photo. It had to be orchestrated, staged and be a projection of some kind of idealism that they had in their mind. It really was a visual representation of how people feel they have to present themselves a certain way. As the parent to two teenagers, it made us feel incredibly aware of how visual and shallow the pressure on these youngsters is.
So, it got me thinking. When did normal become unacceptable? When did it become that being dressed for the weather, cosy, watching the sun come up with someone you love, was not enough anymore? Don’t get me wrong, we had our phones with us and I did take a couple of snaps, but that was not the reason we were there. We wanted to experience the sunrise, see Prague waking up, and observe the different way that the City looked in the dawn. I do think its lovely to get nice photos of an occassion, holiday etc, but thats not what these photos that these people take are, is it? These photos are to create an illusion of a perfect life. To create an image for the gram. But is it to create an image, of a life that these people aspire to? Do the people taking these photos do it as they want to be seen a certain way? Is it about creating a brand? An image of how they want to be perceived?
I did an Instagram experiment early this year, as I was curious about how much effort was needed to grow an account these days. (You can read it here if you’d like to, My Instagram Experiment)I love that there is creativity in photos, and I adore creative accounts, but I also think that it is sad that in order to get that insta-worthy pic, people are missing the beauty around them. The living life through a lens trend is at new heights. They are not seeing what they are taking a photo of, just trying to prove that they were there. Getting the perfect photo that proves it. The pressure must be immense if you are wrapped up in that I would think? Does it take the joy out of the moment? The desire to get that perfect pic outweighs the desire to appreciate a sunrise. That makes me feel so sad.
What do you think? Has it all gone a little to far now? Do you wish there were more ordinary photos on instagram? Do you follow accounts with that whole branding/aspirational life vibe or prefer normal photos? I would love to hear your take on it all xx