During my high school exchange year in South Carolina I took US History. It was obligatory for all exchange students just like US literature and US government/ economics. The teacher did not just make us watch videos like Gone with the Wind and Dancing with Wolves, we had to learn the names of all US presidents in the correct order by heart.
Our textbook had them all lined up with their pictures on the cover pages at the front and back. Looking at them you could tell when photography took roots, and then television. Some of the presidents pre-photography were not exactly a pleasure to look at to say the least. But people wouldn’t know, would they? And what is even more important, people wouldn’t care. Other things were more important than looks when it came to the decision about who should rule.
What a thought given today’s fixation on our pictures, the visible, sometimes tangible expression of our existence. Look, here I am, and the next day and the next. Everyone is rushing somewhere. Up. Anywhere. Everything is fleeting – trends, opinions, interests, celebrity status, fashion, music, technology. While we hate to be reminded that our lives are a mere wink and done, the reminders for life’s momentariness, for our unimportance even are everywhere. Every picture a cry: I am here and I count.
No, I don’t think that every picture taken, takes away a piece of our soul. There are people out there, who had more pictures taken of them than can be healthy and good and respectful for their private lives, who still have a beautiful soul. And those who don’t probably hadn’t one in the first place. But I’d hope that we would move the focus of proof of our existence back from the outer shell and name to our ideas, deeds, skills and work.
I was known to exchange my profile picture with that of a snail shell whenever my Aspie self had enough of the world and wanted to hide. I try to avoid that now and even make an effort to look for contact though every unanswered email, every personalized tweet sent out without reply brings up the same fears that I just failed again in this communication game that I don’t fully understand. Yet, as a person I step back behind the bright universe of my art, in which I celebrate creativity that excites me, while not losing the inter-human dimension in it out of focus. But who am I than just a jester screaming that the king wears no clothes?