I'm The Hero Of The Story

20th March, 2018

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verybody wants to be a main character. We want photos of ourselves taken with a wide aperture lens so the background is out of focus and it looks like a screenshot from a movie. We want to be fighting towards some monumental goal. We want to be like all the media that we consume and live through vicariously. Well, lucky us, because with today's technology, it's never been easier.

When someone makes the classic "young people social media vanity" observation, everybody sneers. When you're not some old religious person, there's no problem with putting yourself above some higher power. Most people now say we should love ourselves the most, since life is mostly an assault on one's self-esteem.

There used to be a lot of discussion about how the media bombards us with an unrealistic ideal of lifestyle and beauty and how that's psychologically unhealthy. Never mind why that stuff makes us miserable, because as soon as everyone got the opportunity to be Main Characters, we all jumped at it. Apparently becoming the predator is empowering.

Now there are people out there putting items in their workspace into an aesthetically pleasing arrangement so they can take a nice photo with it, and then they're spending time deciding which filter and how much of it they should put on, so they can post it and say, "I love doing tissue culture on a Saturday because I’m curing cancer!” Because the photo looks professional, people will believe it. They might think, "Wow, I wish I was photogenic/enjoying my job/contributing to something great."

Well, I’ve been there and I know that transferring liquids from one vessel to another a hundred times on a Saturday morning is not that great. This is a very niche example, but the idea applies to anything that can be photographed nicely but is actually messy in real life, like exercise, cooking, or being at a party where everyone’s off their face. Think of overwrought, photogenic food that doesn't taste all that great. Are you enjoying the food, or the opportunity to show it off?

If I really was enjoying my life, I'd just live it without trying so hard to make it look cool. But I have to confess that a lot of the things I photograph are not that enjoyable. My posts are fishing for validation from people who can't tell. I can't be the only one. Are we all just making each other jealous with lies?

Sure, there are people out there who are honestly leading fun, camera-friendly lives, but the hard truth is that not every one of us can be a main character in that conventional, blockbuster movie way. Personally, I cope by broadening the idea of Main Character, i.e. what constitutes successful living. A story doesn't need to be 100% good times or be seen by a lot of people to be interesting.