My daughter was home over the weekend to visit, and she brought her laptop. â€śOh, Mom!â€ť she said practically the instant she got in the door. â€śYou have to see the photos I took at Fourth of July. I wore that dress you made for me back in high schoolâ€”you know, the pink-and-white-checked one? It looked so cute. Here. Iâ€™ll show you.â€ť She logged on to Facebook and clicked on the album titled â€śFourth of Julyâ€ť and began to show meâ€”and show meâ€”and show meâ€”several thousand photos of herself and her boyfriend and her friend Stacey and Staceyâ€™s boyfriend R.J. and R.J.â€™s sister and R.J.â€™s sisterâ€™s husband and their cute little three-year-old and the â€¦Â STOP!
Iâ€™m not on Facebook, and your Facebook photos are one of the reasons. Yes, I know itâ€™s a marvel of the modern world that every single person in the entire universe carries about with himself or herself every minute of every day a camera with the ability to record every single thing he or she does. And I suppose in some way itâ€™s meaningful to them to be able to share those photos with the people with whom they went to grade school, and their parents, and their grandparents, and the sisters from their sororities, and the guys they worked with at camp that one summer, and all the rest of their many, many â€śfriendsâ€ť on Facebook. But you know what? I donâ€™t want to see your photosâ€”not even yours, darling daughter. Because I just donâ€™t care.
I donâ€™t especially think R.J.â€™s sisterâ€™s three-year-old is adorable; Iâ€™ve never met the child, and I donâ€™t intend to spend even one minute of my lifetime perusing snapshots of her riding the carousel at the Shore. I have the merest soupĂ§on of interest in Stacey and R.J., because theyâ€™re your good friends. But one photo of them is plenty, thank you very much. I know your boyfriendâ€™s hot; Iâ€™ve met him in person. Yes, that is a cute photo of the two of you sitting in the lifeboat in Sea Isle. Iâ€™m happy to see one cute photo of you sitting in the lifeboat. But 15 different takes? Not so much.
I know this is a foreign concept to you, daughter, but once upon a time, to be followed by paparazzi snapping photos of you was considered a bad thing, an infringement, an impingement on oneâ€™s liberty. Now, thanks to People magazine and all those stupid red-carpet shows hosted by Joan Rivers and her daughter, you and your friends have become your own paparazzi. You canâ€™t so much as smile for the camera without striking Kardashian-esque poses, elbows pushed out from your bodies so your upper arms donâ€™t look chubby, hips thrusting to one side Ă la Angelina Jolie, chins pointed away from your chests so as not to double up your chins.
Enough already! Canâ€™t you just take candid photos? One or two candid photos, instead of hundreds and hundreds? And could you take them without all the come-hither glances at the lens, the hair-tossing, the strutting and attitude? Youâ€™re grad students, not movie stars. Listen, if not even your own mom wants to look at all your photos, youâ€™re taking too many photos. Trust me on this.
But thatâ€™s what happens when stuff becomes free. I know you can scarcely remember these days, daughter dearest, but there was a time when we took our photographs on film, and had to pay to have that film developed. It was fairly expensive. And you had to wait a couple of days to get the results. Weâ€™d drive to CVS to get the prints of, say, the photos you took at Girl Scout camp, and enough time would have passed that you couldnâ€™t quite recall every shot youâ€™d taken. There was something sacred about the unveiling of the photos, as you slid them from the envelope and then paged through them and remembered and pointed and blushed with chagrin or laughed with delight.
Photos are cheap now, and whatâ€™s cheap isnâ€™t special. You and your generation have flooded the world with photos the way the Japanese once flooded the world with flimsy plastic toys. None of them were worth saving. None of them were worth anything at all.
A photo used to mean something. Now, weâ€™re drowning in photosâ€”bad photos, indifferent photos, and the very rare photo worth thatâ€™s actually looking at. If you ever find youâ€™ve taken one of those photos, let me see it. Meantime, no thank you, I do NOT want to see the shots from the Poconos team-building retreat you took with your officemates, or the ones of R.J.’s sister’s new puppy, or even, my darling, darling daughter, any more photos of you.