Are You Cropping out Reality?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…. the compulsion to get lost in the black hole of sharing is overwhelming. It connects us to each other, but at a cost. We are still learning how to use these platforms and sometimes we make mistakes.

As someone that thinks and communicates visually, not verbally, my mind is swirling with images all the time. Throw a few thousand extra images into the mix every day from browsing social media and it’s no wonder I feel overwhelmed.

It is not simply the quantity of these photos, videos, ads and illustrations that make me feel anxious, but the aspiration they depict. Everything is shown better than it is in real life.

Here’s an example: When I first discovered Pinterest a few years ago I felt like I had found the perfect resource. Who hasn’t used Pinterest as a fallback in emergency situations? “I need a recipe for dinner that I can whip up in a flash… No problem! I’ll pop onto Pinterest and find something!” Except that finding a recipe meant looking at painstakingly prepared meals, photographed carefully with beautiful place settings, complete with cute name cards and vintage cutlery. Drilling down to a recipe that I could actually achieve with the time and ingredients that I actually had ended up taking 20 minutes. 20 minutes which I couldn’t spare in the first place. My effort to find a quick meal solution resulted in a new wave of guilt over not being more organized, having a poorly stocked kitchen, and discovering  my lack of flair when it comes to vintage cutlery.

What did I forget in all this? Pinterest crops out reality. Where were the many, many failed recipe attempts before the chef got it right? The out-of-focus test shots? The everyday cutlery that people really use?! These were cropped out.

What are my aspirations for this year? (You’ve probably guessed that it’s not to own more vintage cutlery.)  I want to make photographs that are meaningful to me because they show my life as it is. I want to capture what is important, like my family, and to worry less about depicting what I think other people will find beautiful.

I pulled an old picture out of my archive to share and to keep as a reminder of this goal throughout the year. It shows a moment as it really happened. My daughter “helping” my husband shave, something they did together every morning when she was about 3 years old. I’m going to use this as my computer screensaver so I have a constant visual reminder that does not come from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest that there is no need to crop out reality. Reality is perfect.

Here’s to a great year — Heidi