Photos You Should See on Instagram

Many people like Instagram. I like Instagram. Life through an Instagram photo is filtered reality. I like that sometimes, certainly, like when my skin looks bad at a formal event or when a cloudy day makes my family’s trip to New York City look like a trip to Weldon Library. But sometimes, when the highlight of my week really is a trip to Club Weldon, I want my photos to look like what they really are. I recently came across the article 8 Photos You Don’t See On Instagram (But Probably Should). The article focused on eight types of photos that would present a decidedly more authentic take on our lives as seen through Instagram photos. Proposed photos include chipped nails when you don’t have time to fix your manicure, cheap liquor and your day spend in bed (which usually follows a night of cheap liquor). I liked the article, but after reading it I thought, one cannot simply say that those photos should be on Instagram. One must post those photos on Instagram. And until I hear people talking excitedly about their crying selfies, it seems I’m going to have to be the one to post them.

The Chipped Manicure

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This was my manicure two days ago.

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This is my manicure now. I like having nicely painted nails, but it seems all I have to do to make my nail polish chip is look at it the wrong way. (I’ve tried everything to make it last, but with no success.) Often I don’t have the time to repaint my nails or remove my nail polish, so the two days later look is one I have come to accept.

The Ordinary Dinner

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Healthy eating has really taken off in the last few years. Many people are moving towards vegan, gluten-free and clean diets. That’s a great thing. We are healthier for it, and by moving towards vegan diets, the environment is better off. Not only are all the pictures I see on Instagram of #cleaneats, they are pictures of beautifully arranged dishes! (As an aside, does #fitfam refer to a cute little family that goes on 5K runs together followed by Paleo picnics, or does it refer to a group that becomes like a family through their shared interest in fitness and healthy eating? How close is this fit fam really?) I try to eat clean, I try to cut carbs. I’ve even been trying to eat vegan. Some days, however, I do none of those things. Case in point, the above picture of the eggplant parmesan sandwich I made myself for dinner. Unlike most of the food photos I see on Instagram, this was not a meal artfully arranged, though it was a meal artfully cooked. Does this call for a #sogood? I don’t think so.

The Work Day

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Throughout the summer months, Instagram is filled with pictures from beaches, cottages and more amazing vacation destinations that I could have ever imagined. While I am glad to have a good job with regular hours, the excitement of my days does not compare to those of my friends travelling through Europe and Asia. The above image is what I see seven hours a day, five days a week. On the upside, I’ve figured out the kind of camera techniques that make even keyboards look cool. More to come on that later.

The Lunch Date

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I meet my friends and co-workers for lunch some days, but for the most part, I use my lunch hour as a chance to get away from my cubicle. Since I like to go on walks and most people don’t, I usually spend my lunch alone. And I’m okay with that! The only issue is that the empty side of a picnic table outside of the St. Lawrence Market doesn’t usually make Instagram feeds. Today, I’m putting it there. This is a photo of my romantic lunch date with myself, and I’m not ashamed to share it.

The Old School Car

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This is the 1999 Nissan Pathfinder with a cassette player I mentioned in yesterday’s post. What it lacks in modern technology — and air conditioning — it makes up for in speaker quality. I’m crazy about this car, even though I have arrived at my final destination looking like a hot mess on more than one occasion. Instagram is full of car photos, usually of sports cars or beautiful vintage restorations. This car is neither, but I like it anyway. The filter seems to, too.

The Crying Selfie

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Last but certainly not least, the aforementioned crying selfie. After denying you the mugshot selfie I sent to my father yesterday, I thought I would present you this beauty to show you I still care — in a melancholy filter, no less. Some days are good days. Some days are bad days. Some days are ‘I should have worn waterproof mascara’ days. I’m not saying we should take pictures every time we have a breakdown for the sake of sharing on social media. What I am proposing is that we are at least honest and admit that we have those days. For the record, I wasn’t feeling sad when I went to take my crying selfie, so I watched a clip from We Are Marshall. It was moving, certainly, but it didn’t bring me to tears. Then I watched a clip from Les Miserables. Tears welled up in my eyes, but they did not fall. Finally I watched a YouTube video of “Memory” from Cats. I was nearly hysterical. (You know how I feel about cats.) And there you have it, the crying selfie.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, let’s bring a bit more reality and humour to Instagram. Not every meal has to be perfectly presented, and not every selfie has to be flawless. I’ll still appreciate your photos, even if you don’t get thirty likes. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m @cheffernan08. I post pictures of cats, sunshine and friendship bracelets. I hope you like those things too.

Song of the Day: Entertainment by Phoenix

Selfie of Myself

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It seems that everyone has an opinion about selfies. The topic seems to have a polarizing effect, with opposing sides quick to defend their view. For every person I know who has an Instagram account entirely filled with selfies, there is another person who insists they have never taken one. There are many articles about the psychology behind selfies, and the self-esteem issues they often lead to with teenagers. I am neither a psychologist, nor am I a teenager. Selfies, and the camera technology that makes them so easy, came into being after I started university. As such, issues of parental control over pictures posted have never been of any relevance to me, and will therefore not be my topic of focus. When I told me father in a text I was writing about selfies, he asked what many fathers would: “What are selfies?” I sent him a close up picture of myself staring intently at the camera with no makeup on. “Alarming, aren’t they?” I offered as an explanation. (No, I’m not posting the picture.) I’m not going to write about selfies as they relate to self-conscious fifteen year old girls or middle aged divorcees, because many people have written about that already. I’m writing about what I know. This is my perception of selfies and the culture that surrounds them as it relates to me.

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I sent this to my parents right before I left for Nicaragua.

As photographic evidence would suggest, I do not take a radical stance on selfies. I stand somewhere within the grey area. I have taken some and posted few. The reason why I have posted so few is not because I fear associating myself with those who take stereotypical selfies. Quite simply, most of the selfies I take end up looking quite a lot like mugshots, hence the alarming nature of the photo I sent my father. (I’m still not posting it.) Many have said that those who frequently post selfies are in need of validation. That may be the case, but what of the people who don’t post selfies? To me, whether or not one takes and posts such pictures is a matter of confidence. Just because one does not post selfies does not mean that one is not in need of validation in some part of their life. I need as much validation as the next person — hell, maybe I need more and that’s what I blog for. Those who post pictures of themselves may be in need of validation, but at least they have the confidence to put something out there to be validated. Harassment and objectification issues aside, I like to be called beautiful too, but I don’t feel comfortable putting a picture out there to receive that kind of judgement.

Perhaps some who post selfies are self-conscious and seek the reassurance that they are attractive enough, or their lives are interesting enough to be worthy of Instagram likes. Perhaps those who do not post them seek the same reassurance, and are kept from posting them because they fear they won’t receive the validation they seek.

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A selfie with my friend Creepy Muppet Cat in Montreal.

As I was finishing the post for The First Time My Parents Let Me Swear, my mom said, “I like how you aren’t afraid to post bad pictures of yourself.” Until she mentioned it, I had hardly thought about the picture I was posting. I wrote about giving the middle finger, I posted a picture of myself giving the middle finger. It was a simple as that. But it is easier to post a picture, good or bad, in a setting where the focus is on what I have written rather than on how I look in the picture I posted.

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I call this “Mirrored Ski Goggles at 3 am in the UCC”. Relay for Life and essay writing leads to strange outfits.

As for my thoughts on other people’s selfies, I rarely think about whether or not the photographer seeks assurance that their waist is small enough or their breasts are big enough. My reaction to their photos — quite selfishly — is a personal reaction. I feel uncomfortable seeing photos with a bedroom intimacy. Though the photos are posted for the world to see, I feel like I’m still seeing something I’m not supposed to. That’s what happens in a world where technology makes everything and everyone immediately accessible; intimate moments are put out for public scrutiny. But that’s what the photographer intends, isn’t it?

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Late at night in the streets of Toronto, when it looked like I was taking a picture of something else.

From an amazing article of this topic, check out Rachel Rabbit White’s A Story in the Shape of a Selfie of the Writer and Her Friend, Marie Calloway. She is an amazing writer, and one of the reasons I decided to write about this.

As a final note, “Selfie of Myself” became the title of this post because my favourite Walt Whitman poem is “Song of Myself.” The self is now represented in photos and not words.

Song of the Day: Red Hill Mining Town by U2

It sounds best played from a cassette through the speakers of our 1999 Nissan Pathfinder.