This was, of course, before the age of the smartphone. I actually chose my current smart phone because of its excellent photo taking abilities, among other features. Then, conveniently, my camera was attached to me everywhere because my phone was attached to me everywhere! I could snap photos of those meaningful moments like Grandma holding her grandson for the first time, and also the mundane moments like my homemade peanut butter cookies...or the way the Christmas lights reflected off a glass of wine...or my kitty snuggling under a comforter...my phone is so full of photos that I have to regularly upload them onto an external drive to create enough memory for the phone to run properly.
I have a love/hate relationship with my phone as it is. I first upgraded because I was interning for a non-profit and volunteering my amateur PR services for their campaigns, for which I found my old school flip phone insufficient. The ability to quickly look up directions, check email, or post to social media are valuable tools that make it easy to justify having my phone attached me 24/7 for a noble cause.
More often these days I'm using it to maintain a social life on Facebook, watch hilarious cat videos, play angry birds, and take photos of every little thing my son does.
My son is the cutest thing I have every seen. Seriously. Who could fault me for wanting to capture every facial expression, outfit, new skill, and precious moment?
I hear regular gratitude from family who live far away, thanking me for posting so many photos so they can watch him grow from afar. With family and friends living around the world, social media is a way for me to share him with those who aren't around.
Besides, if I'm going to be posting to social media about my day, well....he is my day! He's what I'm up to! Want to know how I'm doing? Check out my son--he's teething, he's growing, he's learned a song, he's trying blue cheese, so on and so forth. If I'm going to post about me, I'm going to post about him.
So, what's the problem, you ask?
Why do I want to take fewer pictures?
Well, for one thing, I'm trying to divorce myself from my phone. I have an addictive personality, and it is hard for me to have my phone nearby and not reach for it every 10 seconds to see if someone liked my status, read my blog, sent me a text, or even just to check the time. There is time in my day to do all these things and enjoy the convenience of technology, but I don't want to perpetually live there. I want to spend more time in the real world and less time time in the virtual one. Giving myself permission to keep my phone around for pictures makes it too easy for me to get lost in the world of the "interwebs" and miss out on precious little everyday moments with my little boy, which no camera could truly capture. If I really felt strongly about taking photos every day, I could keep my very nice digital camera within reach instead. (Read more about divorcing your phone here.)
Secondly, I don't want to live in and contribute to a world of posed snapshots anymore. I don't want to see my son covered in spaghetti sauce and reach for my camera every time--I want to look him straight in the eye as I delight in him, rather than through a lens or screen. I don't want to post the perfect pictures, but throw out the ones where I don't have makeup on or where Asher is yelling at me, so the world sees only the picturesque parts of my life but not the messy ones. I don't want to Instagram everything so my skin looks clearer, his eyes look bluer, and my floor looks cleaner. If I take pictures, I want them to be because we all enjoy capturing the moment, rather than to post them so everyone else can validate how beautiful my life is. My life is beautiful, but my life is also full of mistakes, challenges, and plenty of grumpy days. The thing is, those mistakes, challenges, and grumpy days can beautiful, too, even though no camera could capture it. Those messier things are growing us closer as a family. Striving for the perfect snapshot family constantly leaves me frustrated at the less than perfect moments, rather than grateful for the grace we find in each other. (Watch this video about how often we live life through screens and what we're missing when we do.)
Lastly, I want to stop over-sharing. I love sharing my little boy with everyone who wants to know him, but there are so many special moments that are okay for us to keep to ourselves. You don't need to know what he looks like as he drifts off to sleep in my arms at night. Believe me, he is as beautiful as an angel, and that moment is all mine. You don't need to see every "first" I capture on video. Instead, let me describe it to you so you can experience it through my eyes. One day my son will be out in the world making a name for himself, sharing himself with classmates, girlfriends, and co-workers as he sees fit. Right now, while my husband and I have him all to ourselves, I want to treasure how special that is. (Here's another take on over-sharing via social media.)
I will definitely continue taking photos of my little boy. Of course! I will definitely continue sharing them with family and friends, both privately and online, so everyone can witness how awesome he is and how full he makes our lives. This blog itself is full of photos of us--photographs are a great way to capture beautiful moments in life! I'm just going to take fewer pictures. Rather than taking a million photos so I can recall this moment 20 years from now, I'm going to put down my phone and camera and be fully present in the moments as they are happening. Being fully engaged in our lives now, I doubt I'll need as many pictures to remember these moments 20 years from now anyway ;)