Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pics or it Didn't Happen

“Pics or it didn’t happen“. This used to be a response on message boards, chat rooms or social networking sites in response to an outrageous claim. “I just saw Tony Romo punch a 12 year old in the face on the street”. An appropriate response would be, “Pics or it didn’t happen,” because the responder is smart enough to know that it probably didn’t happen. However, it seems to me this is becoming the norm for how we share our lives with our 200 closest friends via the social networking community.

This is probably due to the fact that you can’t buy a cell phone anymore that is not equipped with a digital camera. “Pics or it didn’t happen” is how we share our lives. I now know what my friend from 2nd grade had for dinner last night via a photo. You know that guy that dated and broke up with my best friend in 9th grade? Well, his daughter (not with my best friend, of course) just did something really cute, proven with an accompanying picture. That guy I dated for 2 seconds in high school and haven’t seen since? His cousin, whom I never heard of before today, just had a baby. Is all of this too much information? Maybe for me. But there is someone else out there who is hanging on every detail.

Have you been to a concert lately? I have. It is a sea of blue screens, thousands of people hanging on every note through a 5” screen. We aren’t watching the stage but watching the stage through a camera, likely uploading the video footage to you-tube before walking out of the venue. We are more interested in sharing our experience than actually experiencing it. Pics or it didn’t happen.

Did you go to a concert last night? Prove it. Did you eat dinner? I want to see. Your changed your baby’s diaper? How gross was it? What does your boss look like when he is yelling? How far is too far?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I‘m not judging. A quick scan of my Facebook page proves I am as guilty as anyone. Did I take blurry picture of Jack White at the last concert? Yes. Did I photograph my last culinary masterpiece (or disaster)? Yes. Did I share the last exciting thing I got in the mail via a photo upload? Most likely. Did that girl I knew in 2nd grade care? I bet not. But, did my friend from my hometown or my other friend across the county feel a little closer and more connected to my everyday life because of it? I would say yes. It is how I stay close with my friends and family who are far away.

I don’t take and share pictures to prove to my middle school friends that I have a life now. Those pictures most likely prove otherwise. For me, it is not “Pics or it didn’t happen”. It’s Pics to keep and grow a personal connection with old and new friends alike.

A person connection with someone comes and grows from sharing intimate details of your life. I suppose the fine line is drawn around who exactly is the recipient of all our generous sharing of the personal details of our lives. But the real lesson here is to be sure the sharing isn’t interfering with the experiencing. I recently came across a blog I wrote about a concert I went to in 2008. I found that reading about my experience nearly 3 years ago brought back more memories than the blurry photos I uploaded to my Myspace page the next day.

I will likely continue to share pictures online that I think will make my close friends smile or give them a glimpse into our everyday mundane life. I hope they continue to do the same for me, because pictures of my hometown friends at a Steelers game or checking in at a favorite local restaurant brings back good memories. My friend’s adventures in photos from California makes me feel a part of her life, although I haven’t seen her in over a year. Not everyone in my Facebook friends list may care about the greenbean casserole I made last night, but I do it for the few who do.

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