Gender reveal parties, aside from being incindiary, are performative, right? They’re done for the Gram.
Remember flash mob proposals? Done for YouTube?
Or just obnoxious engagement rings in general? (For the record, mine was semi-obnoxious but it came with its own ‘fuck you’ in that the stone was fake because the diamond industry is a total scam but I gave into external pressure to get one.)
How about The Knot? An entire wedding website that preceded Pinterest so women could show off their color schemes and wedding gowns, but mostly so they could find spontaneous wedding photos to show their photographer to recreate at their own weddings. Yes, staged happiness.
How do we, as an incredibly self-aware society, get away from performing ‘life’ for the camera?
Some things, I’ll admit, are definitely worth sharing. I started engaging with Instagram stories as a way for people who knew me to get a glimpse into my life in NYC over the past year. They enjoyed it, so I did it. It’s my point of view and an outcropping of how I experience the world through a visual medium. Also, I’m an actual performer, so it’s not quite the same thing. It’s part of bigger projects I’m working on. And a lot of it is practicing skills. Cue eye rolls here!
But when the goal is not to entertain or memorialize something poignant, but merely to prove something to others (and, I suspect, to oneself) what’s the damage being done? Aside from forest fires, obviously?
I’m not even talking about the viewers and FOMO. Just the people who feel pressured to reflexively share everything they consume from food to books to concerts to vacations and beyond? If golf is a good walk spoiled, surely there have been many a walk spoiled by trying to memorialize the trivial and insignificant with a phone camera.
How did we go from the occasional postcard that read, “Wish you were here!” to living a whole life for the viewing pleasure of others? And how do we get past this to living an actual real life? The unexamined life might not be worth living. But the examined life is not necessarily worth sharing.