Dear Mr. Andrew L. Mendelson,
Like they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words. Your article made me further believe how much of a narcissistic culture we truly are. We spend so much time creating the perfect performative palette for the world to see, but is it really our true identify if we spend so much time trying to perfect it?
Like it or not but every day we consciously and unconsciously work to define the way we are perceived in hopes to engender positive impressions of ourselves. Going that extra mile entails emphasizing certain characteristics, through dress, hairstyle, behavior, and/or speech, while hiding or diminishing other characteristics perceived as flawed, depending on context. I know many people de-tag themselves when they see a picture of them looking embarrassingly humiliating, and likewise people use applications like instragram or editing tools to guarantee the enhancement of their perfect image. That’s why I must highly agree with your comment, “while people are purportedly presenting themselves, they are presenting a highly selective version of themselves.” And these identity presentations are supported by comments from other users. We put up a pretty picture of ourselves to receive positive comments and increase the likelihood of someone pressing the “like” button for your photo. And we put up pictures to show off the uniqueness of our lives.
I found it interesting how you referred to personal photography as a “social activity” because I never really thought about it like that. “The photographer is most often known intimately by the subject, and both share an interest in making photographs that emphasize how people would like to be seen.” It’s like an act of exchange where both parties want the same thing in the end of wanting the photo to come out well.
I too have noticed the common theme in every college students’ photo collection: while the outfits and locations change, the types of events documented and the nature of the poses do not; the same stories are told and retold in these photographs. In other words, these images record social rituals of college life. We subconsciously take photos and tag each other without realizing that our true desire of taking these photos is to present a suspended take on college life sociality, through a collage of scenes celebrating the self, group culture, and membership that are played out over and over again. These re-occurring scenes are comforting and reassuring because it confirms the milestones in our lives and validates the sense of a REAL college experience.