The point of taking a picture is to capture an experience or an event. Pictures are intended to preserve the memories and significant moments of a person’s life. The experience should have more value than its picture — the picture is only meant to capture what happened in that moment.
“Instagrammable” pop-up exhibits are, basically, art installments created for taking pictures to post online. They have turned the act of taking pictures into an experience. The value of a photo is now based on the number of likes it receives rather than the memory it represents.
This isn’t a critique on the people who go to take pictures at these exhibits, because I went to one and I understand wanting a great Instagram picture. My problem is with the existence of these pop-up experiences in general. We have placed so much of our worth on our social media pages. Who has the most followers? Who gets the most likes and comments?
I think for a lot of people, including myself, it directly correlates with how people view themselves. If people on Instagram think I’m pretty, then maybe I’m pretty. This is an unhealthy way of thinking, but with the Kardashians and their butts and Instagram influencers getting expensive brand deals, it leaves the rest of us feeling a little inadequate.
The Kardashians are wealthy business women who I admire greatly, but the product that they’re selling is their bodies. Kylie Jenner sells her lips, Kim Kardashian sells her butt and Kendall Jenner sells her legs. There is nothing wrong with this, but to a commoner like myself, it makes me feel like I should look like them to get likes on my pictures. They make me feel like I need to pay to go to these pop-up exhibits to give my Instagram an edge without getting butt implants.
The pop-up experiences have pushed this idea into our heads even more — that you don’t need to go out and do things with your time, because the picture is what you’re aspiring to get. Why should people go outside and do anything if the only good part is to post about it on social media?
As a society, we should be angry about the pop-up experiences because we’re moving away from reality and living through online personas. It’s dangerous territory for the future of humanity but also for an individual’s mental health.
We are no longer living our lives — we are living on social media. This can damage people’s self-esteem, result in a lack of human connection and distort the memory of the experiences in the pictures people are taking. We need to take back our consciousness and live in the moment, instead of living for the picture.
Ashlon Lusk is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from Houston, Texas.