i follow two or three people who have opened me up to a whole other world on tumblr:
girls who post saucy pictures of themselves and the guys who reblog them over and over again with thirsty comments
they’re like one of those symbiotic relationships you would see on a discovery channel documentary
my book is in bali!!!!!
- I am learning to clean and fill my coffee machine at night — and set out the travel mug next to it — so all I have to do is turn on the stove in my morning haze. (This prevents me from buying expensive and honestly not-that-great coffee on the way to the office.)
- I did not eat half a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs while lying in bed tonight, WHICH I VERY MUCH COULD HAVE.
- I have been to the gym three times in the last six days, and am planning to go again tomorrow with my coworker, which I am actually, genuinely excited about. (When we worked out today we did a solid hour of cardio and the displays said I burned 600 calories between the two machines — though that is disputable — and I honestly didn’t feel the time go.)
- My mom is sleeping over on Wednesday instead of staying at her usual hotel and I actually feel like a proper adult who has fresh linens and breakfast items and a nice TV for her to watch if she’s bored.
- Even though my coworker and I hung around my apartment talking until 11:30 on a Monday, we were mostly talking about really cool, interesting work things and lots of stuff I wouldn’t have been able to hold a lucid conversation about even a year ago!
1 Sign That I Am NOT Becoming A More Responsible Adult
- I am writing this at 1 in the morning instead of sleeping, and yet will wonder tomorrow why I am so tired, and why getting up in the morning is so god damn hard.
For the three years I lived in France, I took almost no pictures. I had my at-home selfies of my outfits or my hair, and occasionally a friend uploaded a picture of a moment here or there, but I can count on one hand the times I had a camera with me to capture important events. I had no smartphone, and thus no Instagram, and was in many ways unaware of the way things are documented now.
When I think of the more photogenic events — New Year’s in the Alps, summers on the Mediterranean, lunch overlooking the Pyrenees, road trips through northern Spain — I am almost glad that I wasn’t taking pictures. Would I have enjoyed the snow as much as I did at the top of the mountain if I was clamoring to document it? Would I have remembered to soak in the briny beaches of Brittany if I was worried about how the various shades of grey would translate to an Instagram filter? Part of me feels like, when I’m taking pictures, my brain almost relaxes, assuming that something else is keeping the memory for me. Without a camera, I remember thinking to myself “Memorize what this looks like. Keep it with you.”
Here in New York, I have a smartphone. I am always taking pictures. And though I still don’t take nearly as many as a lot of my friends, my life is much better-documented than it ever was in Europe. I am able to take the best snapshots of myself, edit and crop and filter them, and present a version of my life that I’m not even sure is real. Even though my life was in many ways more thrilling and aesthetically pleasing while in France, it’s my New York life that generates the oohs and ahhs because I am taking pictures of it. Anyone, any life, can be aspirational — with the right editing.
One thing I’m going to be doing in the next few months, with any luck, is getting a “real” camera so that I can start photographing the things I make. I’ll be taking a class on how to make things look nice, how to get that glossy, food magazine aesthetic even when in your very normal kitchen. My hope here is that, in learning how to take pictures with as much care and attention as I create the product itself, I will embrace photography as an art and not just as a means to demonstrate your life. But will that just give me great remorse of all the things I didn’t capture with a professional lens, all of the events that could have made for huge social (and possibly professional) currency?
In April, I’ll be back in my old city, with my old friends, in the same neighborhoods and restaurants I frequented a thousand times. But this time, I will likely be documenting it — both because I’ll have the camera with me, and because it will be rendered special by being temporary. I wonder if all of these elements of my life will suddenly seem more real, more vivid, and more important because everyone else gets to see them. I wonder if they will translate as well as a photo of my manicure or the Manhattan skyline at night, if they will accumulate as much approval.
But part of me suspects that there was a certain element of magic in the fact that it was almost never captured, that we got to live and experience and connect without worrying about how flattering the lighting was. And I fear that, now that my life has become something I photograph — and now that I am addicted to the thrill of others’ perception — I may never quite get that magic back.
One other thing that people refuse to accept in practice — even if they know that it’s true on some level — is that you cannot force things to be popular. And believe me, everyone working on the internet is trying. We all have our projects, whether they’re videos or essays or photography or anything in between, that we want the whole world to see and (hopefully) to share. And we’ve all lived the pain, over and over, of seeing something that you REALLY care about sort of fizzle out, and knowing that you have to try again.
Being able to consistently bring not just clicks to a website, because clicks are still relatively easy to come by, but to bring shares and loyalty and people who say to their friends “I love this” is an extremely hard thing to do. I have enormous respect for people on the internet who have truly mastered it, the vloggers and the writers and the comedians who know how to engage and really entertain an audience. “Viral” posts, when they’re original creative content, are often very hard to create.
If we could, the things that are most important to us would always be the things that the world chooses, but this is often not the case. And many people at this juncture decide that they would rather earn less money, take a supplemental job, or change industries, because they are not willing to compromise what they really want to do for the demands of the audience. And that is perfectly valid, and entirely their choice to make.
But the beauty of the internet is that anyone can make it, it has broken down so many of the traditional barriers to formerly insular and blockaded industries. And yes, you still have the children of celebrities and CEOs and publishers who get in through the back door, but the internet has the power to choose and boost and give value to whoever it wants to. Harnessing the power of what people decide to share, and using it to create personal value, requires work and frequent disappointment.
I also do quite a bit of copywriting and branded writing, and will be doing more of it as the years go on, and I know intimately how enormous companies with nearly endless resources want desperately to tap into the power and the enthusiasm of the internet. And this kind of thing is even less “artistic” in many ways, but it’s more of a challenge and passion than anything I’ve ever done, because even with unlimited resources you cannot manufacture interest. You can’t purchase it. People are becoming more discerning, more demanding, and standing out in the crowd becomes harder every day.
You can trick people into clicking, but you can’t trick them into sharing, and doing commercial work comes with its own sets of extreme challenges. I won’t say that it’s harder than purely artistic work, it is simply a completely different endeavor.