We were standing at the top of Mount Masada in Israel as the sun began to rise, slowly peaking over the horizon and painting the vast Negev desert a beautiful shade of orange. I had never seen anything like it. All 40 of us started to sing, “Let the Sun Shine In” a song from the musical Hair. Our tour guide yelled out, “This will only last for 15 seconds! Take a few pictures and then just put your camera down and just take it in. You don’t want to forget this.” I took 2 pictures on my camera and then put it away, watching this incredible sight that I knew I might never see again.
I am usually the type of person who likes to take pictures of everything I see and do. I like to look back on my pictures and relive all of the great things I have experienced. As expected, I love also love Instagram—instagramming my own pictures, looking through other people’s pictures, participating in Throwback Thursday—I love it all. I think Instagram is a great tool with a long list of advantages, but I also recognize how it is has changed peoples behavior in a somewhat negative way.
If our tour guide in Israel hadn’t specifically advised us to put away our cameras and just take in the sunrise instead, I probably would have watched the entire event through the lens of my camera or screen of my phone. Instead of snapping a few pictures on my camera and being done, I would have pulled out my phone to take pictures that I could then Instagram whenever we had wifi next.
Daily Infographic created an infographic that explains how to spot an Instagram Addict. Their examples are funny, but sadly true. One piece points to a woman’s forehead and says, “Stress sweat from pressure to capture the perfect sunset for ‘Photo a Day Challenge’,” and another points to a man’s “Cramped thumb from scrolling through grainy photos all day.” Instagram has created a generation of people who often forget to experience the world through their own eyes, and for their own pleasure. Each meal Instagram addicts eat, each sunset they see, each cute dog they pass on the street, and each time they go out with their friends must be Instagrammed or it essentially didn’t happen.
Since I got back from Israel over winter break, I have barely been on Instagram. Of course it’s nice to scroll through my newsfeed occasionally before I go to sleep or while I wait in line, but I have consciously thought about experiencing life through my own eyes instead of through my iPhone screen. Here is one of the photos I took of the sunrise at Masada- one of two pictures, not 28 unnecessary versions of the same sun; and not Instagrammed, just the original photo. I’m happy I don’t have an Instagrammed version of this sunrise, because each time I see this picture, I know that I wasn’t too “Instaddicted” to fully appreciate it at the time.