when i was in perhaps fourth grade i went to sleepaway camp. camp koinonia was upstate ny and my bestfriendintheworld susan went as well. we slept in bunkbeds in cabins that had screens as windows, ate in the big cabin that was the cafeteria, took hikes, swam in the lake, did craft projects and played kickball. on one of our hikes in the woods we passed a tepee. i wanted a full picture of this tepee so i stepped behind a big pine tree and parted the branches so i could take an artsy picture. one more step back and i would be able to capture the whole thing in the frame of my pocket instamatic camera. one more step….
i fell backwards off the side of the 30′ cliff that was behind that pine tree. i was intensely lucky though, for at the bottom of my fall was a very large pile of pine boughs. they softened my plummet down.
it is lately that we have seen more and more accidents that happen when people are not photographing a thing but, instead, are photographing themselves. selfies are the preferred modus operandi for instagram, snapchat, facebook, your own camera stream of memories. but people are falling and, tragically, they are perishing in their fall. just to get a photograph. the ever-important picture-of-self-to-post is heart-wrenchingly disastrous. maybe there is another way? maybe it’s not that important? or perhaps, if it really is that important, you could have eye contact with another person and ask that person to please take a picture?
there was a story recently that made me shake my head in utter amazement. residents of a town in russia were flocking to a toxic artificial lake which had turned turquoise because of chemicals from a coal-generated power station. they are hiring photographers, staging photo shoots, getting IN this water that is – knowingly- ridiculously harmful to the skin, all because it and its turquoise hue will make a good picture. it’s a dumping ground! what are they thinking?? i stood there, after reading the story aloud to d, shook my head and said, “it’s a strangely narcissistic world, isn’t it?”
i worry. and, beyond a selfie-craze, i hope that there is a sharp turn away from the dominant narcissism that seems widely accepted these days. if the point of all this – the world – was about any single one of us, i suspect there would be only ONE of us. instead, i believe that the point of all this – the world – is about ALL of us. it’s not just one, at any cost. it’s all. i’m hoping the cost of that – ALL of us remembering that it IS – indeed – all of us – doesn’t destroy us. it’s a toxic lake. we need to see it for what it is.