I was at Floriade’s Night Fest on the weekend; which was colourful, vibrant and picturesque. The flowers had a sweet delicate perfume that was only noticeable when I paused and took the time to crouch beside them. The petals were smooth, soft and almost silky. I heard a click my right shoulder as a camera flashed over the scene. The photographer’s head was held low, as they wandered aimlessly taking photos of the displays. They took the photos disinterestedly, miserably and as if the photos were just taken to send on Snapchat, purely as evidence that they went to Night Fest. Hundreds of questions began spiralling through my head. Are they really taking the photos just for social media? Did they even want to see the flower displays? Would they have come if they didn’t have a camera? How much of the experience does a photo even capture?
When did our inability to share the delicate perfume of a rose on social media make the scent insignificant? When was the last time we stopped to consider how inadequate a photo really is in capturing the whole experience? When did the experience of a place become less important than the way it looks in a pixelated photo?
I wouldn’t care if the only thing we reduced to pixels were the beauty of the environment, as sad as that is. But we do the same thing to our food, we do the same thing to our pets, and worst of all, we do the same thing to each other.
Sadly, I feel the need to remind you that the value in food lies not in its appearance but in its taste, in the enjoyment of the flavours hitting your palate. We need to remember that the value of our pets is in the bond we share, not in the number of likes they get on Facebook. But these examples are trivial. We need to remember that one of the most amazing things about a flower is how the seed fought through the ground for weeks just to get a glimpse of the sun. We need to remember that the beauty of a person lies in their personality, their thoughts, their beliefs, their dreams, their ambitions, and not in the number of likes on their Facebook photo.
I don’t think I need to tell you how our obsession with our appearance has led to a rise in depression, anxiety and suicide rates. I don’t think I need to tell you that we’ve become more addicted to seeing our phones than seeing our friends. But we need to remember that a real world exists behind our pixelated images. We need to remember that life has more beauty than a camera could ever capture.