Constructing your looks on social media through filters and social media and not recognizing yourself at all.


 (a picture of polaroids and coffee and cameras, that would be great looking on instagram)

written by ELLIOT WATSON

I record my life through a carefully selected lens, for this is the age of socially acceptable narcissism. And I will publish a selection of the resultant photographs (via a carefully selected social media platform), for this is also the age of the constructed self.

And my constructed self is fucking great (see that narcissism at work); He buys the first round, he climbs tall mountains and sleeps in low-slung hammocks, eats in the best restaurants and drinks good coffee. He spends summer days outdoors. He looks alright in front of a camera and he cooks using local produce, he only listens to good music and reads well-informed articles in highbrow political magazines. And he wears the right jeans and the right trainers. He even occasionally spends time with his family. I know these things because I’ve seen his Facebook/Instagram/Twitter trifecta at work.

The problem is, I just don’t recognize the fucker. Those mornings (most likely with a headache and a pocketful of credit card receipts) when I trawl through my muddy memories or see myself in the mirror – washed out and lit up by the clinical glow of bathroom light — I become painfully aware that there’s a little more to life than meets the lens.

You see, the real me, the me that inhabits the earth rather than the ether, just doesn’t live that way. Sure, I’ve done some cool shit and even dared to look good whilst doing it… But guess what… There have been major fuck-ups along the way. For every portrait or panorama there’s been a far less photogenic error of judgement or moments of simply unacceptable, rubbish behavior. I’ve just chosen not to publicize those parts of my life. If every picture does indeed say the proverbial 1000 words then, honestly, I’d need at least 5000 to tell you what happened next or what happened the night before and even then I’d be leaving out the worst bits. And it’s all in the name of presenting my better self, my more attractive self — my carefully constructed, synthetic self.

But it’s OK, because it’s 2014 and we’re all doing it. We’re all living this increasingly synthetic existence. And the ubiquity of technology, connectivity and social media in our lives has allowed us to present our finer moments to the world. But I shouldn’t need to write this article to explain that Facebook profiles, Instagram feeds and even family photo albums need to be viewed with a pinch of salt and a genuine understanding that neither my life nor anyone else’s life is one endless catwalk or holiday or house party. Those feeds and photo albums are just galleries of the good times. What’s needed here is a sense of perspective.

Photographs create a legacy, they immortalize moments. It’s understandable then that there’s this desperation that the right photo gets taken, that everybody looks good and looks happy. After all, we’d all like our lives to fit the kind of fairytale narrative that appears in every movie and every Facebook profile and every celebrity’s Instagram feed. But how often does a photograph capture the smile that precedes a frown? Or even the other way around? Life’s always been about ups and downs, great joys and great losses. It’s amazing that a camera — for all it’s accuracy, for all it’s filters and Photoshop, and for all the clinical timing of the modern photographer behind it — so often fails to tell the whole story.

There is such a thing as a good photograph — one that shows you happy, looking your best, in good company with a drink in your hand, content, confident and probably well dressed — but there really isn’t such a thing as a bad one, that’s just how your life looks sometimes.

 x Check out this piece for Instagrams that will make you love Brooklyn x.

the best instagrams of brooklyn featuring catbird