How do I look?

Theresa Lee, Staff Writer

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Snap. Select. Edit. Post.

From festive birthday outings to gorgeous vacation photoshoots, most social media users update followers on life events “worthy” of attention. The pursuit of a polished profile compels users to edit and re-edit photos thoroughly before publication. Posting pictures requires deliberate consideration, but the core steps are pretty simple. All you need is a high-quality camera, an aesthetic background, trendy clothing and plastered smiles announcing that you’re living your best life, filled with friends, delectable food and coveted adventures.

I often encounter such groups at restaurants, trendy attractions, festivals and sports games. They clamor over who will take the next picture under the neon sign and with whom, snapping dozens of identical staged photos before stopping to examine their quality. Once the prolonged photo shoot is over, eyes immediately glue to illuminated phone screens, fingers meticulously editing fresh pictures through apps like VSCO or Instagram. Preparation for the ultimate post begins, which, mind you, will either enhance or blemish impressions on others.

I won’t lie. I’m guilty of this myself.

But I realize it’s quite ridiculous to strive for “picture perfect” by spending money on a pricey burger or driving for hours in rush-hour traffic just to get a picture at a hot hangout. This is not to say that all photographers strive to achieve fame, popularity or acceptance in society. Rather, it points out how much social presence is stressed in the current generation.

Our world is full of judgment. Fearing this, we aspire to conceal our insecurities by portraying the “ideal me” and asserting false confidence in the media. The increasing desire for social acceptance urges constant stress over our online image accessible to the public. When we focus on the “perfect” picture, we no longer enjoy our company or relish the moments we share. We are too absorbed with personal interests that our memories become fake.

Pictures capture memories. Not the other way around. So put down your camera. Pocket your phone. Make eye contact with your friend, and strike up a conversation. Stop stressing about posting the “perfect” picture, and for once, just once, forget about hiding your true self.