“Fred! Let’s take a selfie,” a young woman in the middle of Hogsmeade cries out, lifting her GoPro camera to the perfect angle. Fred, caught up in the spirit of Universal’s artificial Scottish beauty, steps away from the smiling lady, who snaps a picture solo without missing a beat. Other tourists pull out their cell phones and hold up Butterbeer to their lips, snapping photos left and right for their followers and “friends.”
Growing up in the late nineties and early 2000s, my experience with photos was relatively old-school: I owned a Kim Possible disposable camera and, after blowing through an entire roll of film on one afternoon at the park, I learned the value of conserving film for posed moments and memorable group shots. Every photo was developed and placed carefully in scrapbooks and photo albums, but all of my tangible photo experiences stopped in my early tweens.
Frankly, when almost every photo is a selfie, taken on a low-quality cell phone camera, and posted strictly to the internet in hopes that it will be preserved, our memories may not feel so real anymore. There are more candid photos and selfies of me than posed photos, and I am beginning to wonder if our lives are becoming so overly-documented that no photo is a favorite photo, and no picture is truly important anymore.
Long after my disposable camera days, I still stick to my digital camera for preserving the action in my life. Every second I deem notable is snapped and sits somewhere within a small piece of plastic. No more big photo albums. Plastic chips. Only to be read my computers, not curious eyes who want to remember the past.
While I don’t dislike selfies, sometimes I wish my memories weren’t shared on Facebook, especially inadvertently. I don’t know how often my resting face appears in random pictures, and while I worry about this, I simply let my favorite moments collect digital dust within an SD card. Perhaps not printing our photos to hand to our children one day, while we take more photos than ever before, will result in us having no clear way to remember anything. We will just be smiling pixels that could disappear at any moment, and we will rely on the images inside us to hold onto the past.
Photo credit: Public domain