Do pictures still say a thousand words?

Today as I was sitting at yet another red light in Auburn, just scanning the road and the other cars also waiting for the green-OK, I noticed something peculiar. There was a car to the right and a little bit ahead of me, with three what-looked-like-straps holding the trunk closed (I assume). I almost instantly recognized the “straps” – there were three pieces of duck tape holding the trunk down. Three strips of that do-it-all adhesive that were each longer than me. I laughed, and quickly snapped a picture – I had to show my parents what I witnessed. The light turned green, and I went on my way.

Still on the road, I thought about my intention with that picture. I was going to show it with the expectation of receiving laughter and “gotta love it” reactions. Why? I became more and more unsure of this as I drove. Why couldn’t I just relay what I saw with my words? Describing what I saw would have garnered the same reactions; I don’t just make things like this up so I wasn’t worried about not being believed. Why was my reaction, when seeing this peculiar and somewhat comical sight, to snap a photo so I could share it, rather than just store it in my memory and possibly share it through words later – especially since this memory is basically meaningless to me, apart from the 5 seconds of humor from which I gained satisfaction.

It struck me in that moment how much sharing – senseless sharing – occurs in this age of Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and sure, I guess Facebook you’re still relevant. Once a moment is captured, the “share” button is clicked and our moment becomes this thing that gets passed around until it’s time to share our next moment. If there isn’t a photo of something, did it actually happen? Of course it did – you don’t need to prove everything with a photo. It’s just interesting to me that we need to share, share, share – when did this sharing stop being about reminiscing with friends or flipping through old photo albums and talking about the stories within those plastic, photo filled pages, and start being about just an onslaught of content?

I bought a photo album a few days ago from TJMaxx, and made a promise to myself that I would fill it with my summer adventures this year. This doesn’t mean I won’t be sharing photos along the way – I’ll definitely be posting to my blog and Instagram, but I’ll be doing it less, and be printing those photos more. I want to be able to hold those memories in my hands, and connect with people by looking through photos and telling them about each one. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not critical of sharing photos on social media of life events and captured moments that are dearly sentimental, I’m not even really critical about photos of breakfast or of different spots of the same popular hiking spots. But if there are moments that are being captured just for the sake of sharing content rather than to preserve a precious moment – like taking a picture of a trunk of a car being held closed by three long strips of duct tape – aren’t we just throwing ourselves into an unproductive, meaningless situation that makes us stare zombie-like at screens and develop advanced stage carpal tunnel? And for what? For a few seconds of easy, almost guaranteed satisfaction.

Share happily, my friends. But don’t forget to cherish your moments, so you can capture not just the image, but the sentiment. Oh, and the duct tape trunk? I don’t have the picture anymore. You’re just going to have to imagine the oddity, and take my word for it.

One thought on “Do pictures still say a thousand words?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have really been enjoying your blog, Kelsey. And I REALLY enjoyed this one on pictures saying a thousand words. It is so funny that you share the experience of seeing a car held together with duck tape. Last week while waiting for a bus I saw a car strapped together seemingly holding something underneath from falling off. So strange that I wished I had a camera to photo it. I had fun telling the story to a few people I was with later that day. I really relate to what you speak about the importance taking photos in order to share memories not just instantly share them electronically and then forget about them. Gram has so many photos and each one holds a story. I too have many many albums of photos that hold memories/stories I love to share. Your article resonated with me. It would be great to share some of the memories tucked in albums already as well as make new albums together of the hundreds of photos still to be sorted and shared. I’ll be home in August maybe we can make a date. I would love to see your pix and hear more of your adventures in NY and more. Hugs to you! Aunt Donna


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