Would you take a photo of yourself spreading your spouse’s ashes?

One man did and shared it on Reddit, where 200,000 people were emotionally moved – many of them to tears. So, why did I feel so weird about it?

User specialdialingwand1 felt the same way I did, and left a comment under the photo explaining why: “remember when you could just fully be in the moment without thinking about how you were gonna capture it, share it, record it? This sort of thing just seems to undermine the authenticity of it.”

With the ubiquitousness of smartphones, society has come to accept that enjoying a moment and photographing it now go hand in hand, but does that latter really enhance the former?

Like eating a bag of chips while reading something engaging, it feels like you’re enjoying both – until your hand brushes the bottom of the bag, and you wonder where all the chips went because you barely tasted anything. 

Non-presence in a moment is unsettling when we recognize it. And it’s something I’ve been recognizing a lot lately.

You might think that a travel blogger who makes a living capturing moments and sharing them online has no right to comment, but it’s precisely because I do it so often, and understand the effect it has, that I feel compelled to.

Does photographing a moment dilute its authenticity? Is there a difference between capturing it on camera and experiencing it fully?

I believe it does, and there is, and that I’m dwelling on this at 1 am because popular wisdom expounds that we dislike in others what we see in ourselves.

Over-capturing every trip, and city, and beautiful thing I see splits those moments into two pieces, both less vibrant than what they could be. My experiences were diluted, and it bothers me that even knowing this it’s still difficult to strike a balance and put the camera down.

But life’s a work in progress, and I’m working on it.

No matter how significant a moment is, our memories of it won’t last forever. So, it’s understandable that we take photos. But aren’t these, too, bound to get lost on a forgotten hard drive or locked behind a forgotten password eventually?

Our memories will fade and tech will change, so all we truly have is the present moment. And if we’re not present in it, then we have nothing at all. 

 

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