Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Logging off: Posting photos before we take them

Sunday, February 20, 2022
Graphic by Jasmine Jones

Almost all of us have fallen into the influencer-wannabe mindset. Posing in front of colored walls. Performing TikTok dances on the beach instead of swimming. Posting stories of our fruit-filled smoothie bowls.

Thereís nothing inherently wrong with wanting to document your life or share it with others, but falling into an influencer mindset means documenting your life not for yourself, but for consumption.

Being an influencer wannabe means posting the photo before taking it. Being an influencer wannabe means documenting your life based on followers and not the truth.

In the past, Iíve chosen not to post certain photos of my smile because it looked too wide, too imperfect; instead, I chose to post pictures of my practiced smile. The photo may not have captured my true happiness, but it fit my Instagram ďaestheticĒ better.

(When I say Iíve practiced my smile, I mean it. In middle school I spent at least an hour practicing how not to smile too wide before picture day.)

With those practiced smiles, I was posting a performance and not a photo. I was posting for an audience and not myself. This is exactly why Iíve been hesitant to post (or even take photos) of certain areas in my life, specifically with friendships and relationships.

My boyfriend and I didnít take a picture together until one year into our relationship. The idea of capturing us together on a phone made our relationship feel like a performance. Every day we talked to each other for hours. Every week we visited each other ó going on walks and baking bread or just enjoying each other's company. No photo in my mind could capture all those moments, all those beautiful intricacies woven into our relationship.

Then, it happened. We finally took a photo together. It was the end of autumn in St. Louis, and we spent the day wandering through Forest Park. Eventually, we found a grove of golden trees and took a spontaneous selfie.

I thought I would delete it, but I didnít. I LOVED that photo. Not because I thought we looked cute or the scenery was stunning, but because it looked real. The photo was never taken with a post in mind. It was taken with us in mind, and only us.

I realized that might be the key to taking a good photo, taking it without a post in mind. Taking the photo because YOU want to document something, not because itíd get a ton of likes.

Social media is not the problem. Itís what we allow it to become. Not all content needs to be so carefully crafted. Post your happiest, brightest and widest smile.

Or donít post at all. Take the photo for your camera roll. Leave it there. Let it be your life.