Truth - It's almost impossible to know all is there is to know about other people, let alone our selves. The best way to do so however is to allow others to tell us about themselves. What is important to keep in mind however is that what we often receive are bits and pieces, glimpses, and flickers of larger narratives. We get the abridged version of someone's life. We are told the sparknotes run down. We are tasked with surviving off of perfectly cropped, edited, and filtered snapshots. How do you ever know someone then?
"The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." Steven Furtick
Social media has revolutionized the ways we communicate in some aspects, and in others not at all or rather set us back. Social media often givens us a false a sense of intimacy. Even right now as you read my deeply personal thoughts and feelings you are only getting what I am willing to share. It can never be the whole story by rather just the redacted script that I'm okay with putting out into the world. People give the impression that they are sharing their whole lives on social media. We are more, I hope, than selfies, food pictures, political rants, animal videos, memes, and links to click bait articles that we actually never read ourselves. Think about all the thought and restraint (ideally) that people show in sharing, keeping in mind that not everyone censors themselves to the same extent. The stream of selfie attempts it takes to get that one perfect on picture that is actually posted, long edit history of long-winded rant statuses, and the strangely strategic usage of the infamous "like" all demonstrate the complications we go through in trying to curate the entirety of who we are. Social media gives us, more often than not, the ability to control the stories of who we are. It's nowhere near who we actually are though. 

Social media can be misleading because it can be regarded as often nothing more than a stream of our best and worst moments, looks, and attributes. We get the extremes in seeing people's most memorable moments on the spectrum of happenings, good and bad. The regular days are so mundane they are undocumented in abstentia. Haven't you ever wondered how that one friend of yours always looks so good, posts draw in likes, and does it all so consistently? Easy, they have mastered the art of social media. Who they are publicly is well-organized, put-together, and produced (in the theatrical sense). I know from experience because it is exactly what I do. It takes a negligible amount of effort but from someone on the outside all they see is the bright smiles, well-worded statuses, and perfectly timed releases. From facebook, to twitter, instagram, vine, pinterest, linkedin, snapchat, and even this blog, I present a unified singular story of who I am with each platform getting a personalized version of it. In the grand scheme of things, it's actually quite ridiculous but this is the reality of the world. But what does that do to the authenticity of who we are? It gives nothing more than a snapshot.
We don't talk with people anymore, we talk about them. We're encouraged to share, like, tweet, revine, email, subscribe, follow, and everything in between. We're prompted to do everything but actually be present. Social media is not only the great connector but the great divider as well. We have the potential to silo ourselves and remove almost all opposition from our lives. Take for example this political season; it's easy to dismiss the thoughts of those who support the opposing party as unreasonable, outrageous, or just downright foolish but in doing so we do nothing than create a network on people who think just like we do. We lose the conversation, challenges, and debates. Instead we're left with superficial self-fulfillment as others let us know we're good, we look good, or are doing good. We can be so easily polarized and miss out on opportunity to dig deeper. Think about it. I can say I most definitely have spent more time getting to know people who are different than me than I have those who I regard as similar. The point is missed and those senses of urgency, wonder, or interest are lost. What do we really know about our friends, our siblings, or even our parents? What is their back story? Why are we just okay with nothing things here and there? How are we fine caring about people deeply but barely scratching the surface of who they are?
The past few days I've challenged myself to dive deeper with people I know. I have to ask more questions and take the time to listen. Every single person I meet or know has a lifetime of stories, experiences, and thoughts to explore. It is no longer okay just to pass by people trading pleasantries or feeling fulfilled because I took the millisecond to like their post. The least I can do is add a comment, and chat with them. There's a big difference in taking pictures just to take them and behind intentional in doing so. Quantity and quality of shots is what you're looking for. We have to take the time to focus and be present. Ask people to say more, push a little more, and make the time to be there. The disease of busyness is one we make up for ourselves. We have to stop saying we don't have time and instead replace it with what we mean that it's not a priority. The gravitas of that distinction is deafening. If people matter to us, and we matter to them, then we have to acknowledge their importance. No more quick snapshots, we have to flip through the whole album.
Pictures, asking more questions, listening to understand
Living behind a lens is an interesting way to experience the world. In some ways I'm there and hyperfocus on the minute details of my subjects, and simultaneously distanced from where I am. There has to be a way to balance the extremes. I'm challenging myself to take the time to be there with people. I want to capture them in their purest form without editing, filters, or contrived poses. Candid glimpses into their lives that make up a larger photobook well worth spending hours flipping through. We are all more than our snapshots. X


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