Monday, January 18, 2010

How Do You Love You? Let Me Count The Ways

The girls disappeared for a couple of hours after church today. I admit I didn't notice right away because they were in Vanessa's car and besides, I was preparing dinner. I've found that working in the kitchen is the surest method of guaranteeing that I'll have some quality "alone" time; no one else in my house risks coming within 20 feet of an unpeeled potato.

So it wasn't until we were actually sitting down to eat that I realized my daughters weren't home. Using our Ronco "Pocket Divining Rod" we located Jacob (hiding in the coat closet to avoid setting the table) and he informed us that the girls were off in the desert taking pictures.

Of themselves.

And not for the first time, I reflected that we are raising an astonishingly narcissistic generation.

You remember Narcissus, don't you? He was the Greek god of Digital Cameras, who fell in love with his own profile picture and wound up marrying a cardboard cutout of himself.

Between cell phones and laptops, not to mention actual photographic equipment, there is no limit to the degree to which folks can celebrate their love of their own image.

I find this completely and unutterably bewildering. The only night of the school year when I went to bed with fear gnawing at the pit of my stomach was the one before picture day. And after enduring it I gladly rejoiced in the assurance that I would not see another photo of myself until the next year's travesty.

SATs? Slept like a baby. Opening night of the musical? Cake walk.

Having the chance to irrefutably declare to the universe that I had, in fact, attended the seventh grade? Valium, please. Stat.

It wasn't that my family didn't take pictures. We took gazillions of them. Roll after roll of film, filled to overflowing with documentation of vacations and birthdays, graduations and reunions.

And then, like every other red-blooded American family who understood the heartache that awaited us if we actually saw what we had recorded, we failed to develop any of the photos.

There was great wisdom in this.

Who could endure the agonizing frustration of learning, weeks or months after the fact, that you spent three days at the beach sporting a wedgie in your new 'boy cut' swim suit? You'd take one look at that 3x3-inch piece of cardboard and scream, "Pull it out, you idiot!" knowing that the poor fool was beyond help. Until the pictures were developed, that trip had been the time of your life. Now you'd need medication just to read a Coppertone ad.

Seriously, who'd go looking for that kind of grief?

My kids would. And they're not alone. Have you seen some of these Facebook "albums"? My daughter has a couple of pals who - I'm not kidding - have more than 500 pictures of themselves, all of which could be titled "Wistful Gazing, Volume I'.

"Here I am, gazing wistfully at the ocean."

"This is me, gazing wistfully at a rock."

"Me again, gazing wistfully at my Facebook page."

And that's another point: Take a good look at those pictures. What are the subjects doing in them? I'll tell you what they're doing...


Not a blessed thing!

These aren't pictures of once-in-a-lifetime humanitarian expeditions. They aren't photos of wild animals or exotic scenery or even the crazy neighbor who takes his trash cans to the curb wearing nothing but tube socks and a barbecue apron. It's just the kid, her digital camera, and the throngs of adoring fans living inside her head.

Eventually the girls blew in, exhausted but aglow from their desert photo shoot. Vanessa spent the next six hours editing the pictures and uploading them onto her profile page, where they now can be viewed by all her 'friends'.

And that's a good thing. What with a full schedule of status updates, tweets, and wistful gazing, who has time for actual relationships?

Besides, last I heard, all the kids her age were dating cardboard cutouts of themselves.

I just love a happy ending, don't you?


Hel said...

Cracked me right up. I know what those wistful gazing albums look like and I stay clear away from them.

I like looking at random strangers wedding photos, so if the girls want my attention tell them to dress up in a wedding dress and THEN take desert photos.

Make sure they have a few crazy relatives doing the chicken dance just for good measure. Oh and the tackier the bridesmaid dresses the better.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You've got a darn good point; something I hadn't really thought about/noticed. Kind of a whole new breed of image worship.

They do look lovely though, wistful gazes and all. Most of my gazes just look a little constipated.

Mallory said...

I must admit, I may have a wistful gaze picture or two in my facebook albums. But, they are mainly to show off a I think they are mostly justified.

My little sister, on the other hand....

Kristina P. said...

I never took pictures of myself in high school, or really ever, until I started blogging.

I mean, I have all those pictures the papparazzi take of me, but that's just part of being awesome.

Amber Lynae said...

This is so funny, but mainly it is funny because my friends and I would hold sleep over photo shoots. We would dress up and do our own glamor shops. Maybe I shouldn't admit that in a public place. Too Late.

Jami said...

You nailed it. Every last bit of it.

"You remember Narcissus, don't you? He was the Greek god of Digital Cameras, who fell in love with his own profile picture and wound up marrying a cardboard cutout of himself." Sweetie, if I wasn't already happily married I'd marry a cardboard cutout of you!

Melanie J said...

This is why the little button that looks like a garbage can on my digital camera is my favorite. At age 30, I suddenly I developed a double chin, plus my front teeth look all crazy in half my pictures now but I never, ever have to worry about the public seeing those things again. Unless my brother is taking the pictures. Then I'm screwed. Even if the pic comes out good, he'll edit all the other stuff back in plus like, a wart or something, and THEN post it on FB and THEN tag me in it. Awesome.

Kazzy said...

I took some shots of myself with my webcam yesterday, but I find that I do it NOT because I like photos of me as much as I am just hoping the next one will make me look just a little better. Ugh

And I am in very few family photos that have been taken over the past 20 years. I think that's mistake. Someday, someone will want to know what I looked like standing next to my husband and kids.

Kazzy said...

And your daughters are gorgeous, btw.

Maureen said...

Oh my gosh, LMBO! And what about mirrors? My sons cannot pass a shiny surface without pausing. Sometimes, when driving me somewhere, we'll stop at a light and they'll pull down the visor to take a peek. It's wierd. I avoid all reflections and cameras (much as you do). Find this very bewildering....

M-Cat said...

If I were as gorgeous as your doctors I would take pictures of myself too!

Cindy said...

This is HILARIOUS. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has noticed this in this generation. I'm astounded at allllll the pictures that are on our computer. Is there a DELETE button somewhere!!!!

MommyJ said...

I was just browsing around facebook the other day, trying to find pictures of one of my former young women's new boyfriends... what? Is that weird? Her sister swore to me he wasn't cute and I wanted to see for myself. So I find the kid's profile, and much to my delight, he hasn't protected his photos. So I click through the photos on his profile. First, the mission photos. Lovely, right? Wholesome, delightful, good little missionary. Then, the very next category? It's titled "gun show." And the ENTIRE album was all of his biceps.

Seriously. I wish I were making it up. I mean, WHO does that sort of thing? Does this poor RM really believe his biceps are so amazing that he needs an entire photo album dedicated to their adoration?

I hate photos of myself. Bleh. Gah. Hate going through it.

And... your daughters are so very lovely. :)

Sarah said...

I swear after that post I will never take another picture of myself for my facebook page.

The Garden of Egan said...

Well is it narccism or good self esteem?
I think they are totally beautiful girls and if they want to marry cutouts of themselves. You are doing some seriously harsh mothering!

Loved the post!
Love your blog!
(Which one was the one that was at BYUI? The pale pasty sun-deprived, warmth deprived one?)
I mean if you had just spent 4 months in the outer depths of darkness such as this place wouldn't you want to run off to the desert and take a photo to remind yourself that you're really here?

Dustin and Melanie said...

That reminds me, my FB pic is SO 10lbs ago, thanks for reminding me. I hadn't thought about doing desert pics, nice idea:)

annie valentine said...

Okay, this is the best post ever. When I had my head shots taken, I think I only got like seven proofs back. That would be six too many.

Seriously, one good airbrushed photo for posterity is all any girl needs.

Gloria (The Mamafamilias) said...

And it starts so very, very young. As in Nursery Age!!! Every time I would take a picture of one of my Nursery babies, they would immediately ask to "see myself".

You'll note that my picture on my blog was taken some 52/53 odd years ago. That's because that's the best I've ever looked.

That Girl said...

I suppose I'm guilty of worshiping Narcissus, myself. Those I usually do it with a smirk on my face.

okierivermama said...

Its better than worshipping the television though, my 6 y.o.
"borrowed" my camera and took 143 pictures of a scooby doo movie. I know this because it was a fresh SD card before he "borrowed" it.
and how many pics do you really need of a scooby doo movie that you own at least 2 copies of because you have one in the van and at least one in the house.
But my neice @ Christmas took at least 40 pics of herself or herself holding my baby, and none of the rest of the family...kinda funny really

Kimberly said...

So buying a camera with a flip out screen specifically so I can take pictures of myself is bad? Dang it. There goes my pride in being a non-conformist...

L.T. Elliot said...


Oh, so much I could say but all you really need to know is:


Debbie said...

I have to admit that I am happy my daughter takes a lot of photos of herself and friends because I am her friend on Facebook and get to see some of her college life. My son hates having his photo made. Probably because he is up to no good.

Qait said...

(I think I start all my comments like this: "HAHhaHAHHAHA!" So today I'll try something different).
(but I really did laugh!) (a lot!)

The facebook/profile pictures that bother me the most are the ones where the girls stick out their lips to make their cheeks go in, angling their face so their eyes are way up in the camera's lens. They think it's hot? Gag. They look like fish. And a lot of girls do it in every other picture!

I have a few narcissistic pictures (yeah, NOW I have to confess), but I do NOT have quite the obsession I did when I was, say, 15. Thankfully those billions of pictures are all under dust layers in the old dinosaur computer the family has lost away somewhere. Phewf!

charrette said...

Fabulous! This is why I love you. You speak absolute truth. And you make me laugh.

Just stopping by to say I miss you (and I know I still owe you a response to your wonderful writing). Please forgive -- we are dealing with vast amounts of chaos at Chez Charrette.


Jessica said...

I prefer to avoid the camera. But I know way too many people with 100's of photos of themselves. I love the "Me thinking of my future" pose, and the "I just happened to be resting by this tree looking like this" photo is also a favorite.

wendy said...

I guess here's the difference between our dreaded school photos -back in our day ---compared to digital cameras now. YOU CAN EDIT THEM. get rid of the ones where you don't think you have the "diva" look you are looking for. And then there is photobucket, and where you can even "adjust" the look a little. Now everyone has a chance to look --------well, rather vogue (or as close to vogue as they'll ever get)

I still look at my teen photos and cringe. Where was "editing" when I needed it.

as for your girls --gotta admit, dang cute

and I don't like to come within 20 feet of an unpeeled potatoe either.

Corrie Howe said...

So it's not just a teenage boy thing? Or an extrovert boy thing? Darn.

Christy Gibson said...

I laughed when I read this. Are my kids some of the ones you've seen on FB with a million pictures of themselves pulling faces? I can so relate! It is funny how much teens these days love to take photos of themselves.

Migillicutty said...

The Greek god of digital cameras.... lol!

brudcrew said...

Paul has a niece that has five times as many pictures as words on facebook and they are all of her looking wistful. I had to comment (in all my obnoxious old womanhood) that my favorite was the ONE in which she was actually smiling.

AS Amber said...

Ba ha ha ha!!! Oh how I love those girls! Mom told me all about this day. Too funny. Look through all of their pix on their cel phones and I bet you'll find the exact same people in them. All them.

I guess it's better than no self esteem at all.

And if I were as photogenic as your girls, I'd be self-portraiting all the time, too!!!