Is my hair okay?I couldn't give you an exact date, but some time a few years ago, I began hating having my picture taken. Every time a friend or a friend of a friend would rummage through her purse, looking for her camera, I'd find myself surreptitiously heading to the bathroom, or getting up to grab another drink. I didn't want to be in front of the lens.
Despite this "condition" being something that seemingly happened overnight, I merely chalked it up to the fact that I was getting older, and was feeling less photogenic than I did "in my youth." But now, after some careful analysis and a boatload of flow charts, I realize that my camera-shy ways can be traced back to an exact date: The day I joined Facebook.
An article in the New York Times titled "For Teenage Girls, Facebook Means Always Having to Be Camera Ready" recently highlighted a phenomenon everyone, not just high-school-aged females, is familiar with: The phenomenon of knowing that every photo you appear in will, most likely, wind up on the Internet. And you will feel judged.
When I was in college, and when Facebook was not even a flint in Mark Zuckerberg's eye, I can remember jumping across the room to get into a photo with my friends. No makeup on and hair in a rat's nest-like bun? Who cares! Just ate a plate of spinach and didn't have time to check my teeth? Sure, why not! Braless and hadn't slept for days? Bring it on!
Never mind the fact that, yes, I was more photogenic at 21 than I am at 33, the truth of the matter is, back then photos were just that: Photos. Film sat at the bottom of dresser drawers for months, and when you finally remembered to take it to Wegman's or wherever to get it developed, it was just for you and a select few. Your friends and you would gather 'round to see what the roll brought. You'd laugh; say things like, "Oh, my God, I totally forgot about that"; and rip up anything that was incriminating and it'd never see the light of day again. And it ended there.
Now, the sight of a camera naturally triggers an instinct in all of us to fluff our hair and reapply our lip gloss. Even if it's just an impromptu, flippant picture at a bar with some friends, reality is, it's a mini-photoshoot. 'Cause, see, the picture you just took isn't only going to be something you and your friends will see. It's going to be something you and your "friends" will see. And there's a big difference.
Do you feel more self-conscious about taking photos now that Facebook exists?