One of my Facebook friends, Karin Larson Krisetya, a former Goshen College student now a graduate student and young mother living in Indonesia, recently noted wryly that she had search through 63 photos before finding one good enough for her profile. She wonders if Facebook causes vanity.
Here’s her explanation to her friends about trying 63 photos: “Yes–i’m not kidding you. 63. Partly it was technical issues–face half out of the frame. Partly it was vanity–does my jaw really look that sharp…and are those lines on my face? Out of 63 this was the best, and I’m not thrilled with it to be honest with you. I think I was looking for a picture that captured how beautiful I FEEL. I feel beautiful every day. It’s just a shock when you look at a photo of yourself and realize that the physical beauty doesn’t necessarily match up with how I feel inside!”
She continues, “I never equated the way I feel about my physical look with getting older. But I suppose that is part of why I don’t look the way I feel. I actually don’t fear getting older at all–I look forward to it (at this stage at least!) It’s just so strange that a picture can’t capture how we feel, you know? FB needs to get on that, don’t you think? Create some new program that will allow us to communicate in a photographic way how we actually feel about ourselves…maybe I should copyright that idea :)”
Karin is a beautiful young woman who has identified an ancient dilemma–the visual equivalent of the problem that even the most beautiful words cannot fully express the ineffable.
Great artists have tried all kinds of ways to overcome the same problem. Rembrandt depicted himself 63-90 times, depending on which source you believe. Van Gogh also strove numerous times to put his inner life into paint, including several self portraits with a bandaged ear.
Karin’s question led me to think about the role of photography, especially photography online, in the age of memoir. Everyone has a digital camera or two these days. Samsung just brought out a new camera-phone called–The Memoir! Can you believe it?
Below is a YouTube about The Memoir. As you check it out, I challenge you to answer Karin’s question:
Is the desire to represent our inner lives in external ways vanity? If it is not vain in the sense of pride, is it vain in the sense of useless?
Why are so many of us trying to tell, sing, chant, capture, paint, record, document, dance our inner and outer lives today?