Don’t upload that onto Facebook: The Psychology of Posing


You are with a group of friends or with a loved one enjoying a beautiful scenery. You take a photograph together for the fun of it. You take a photograph to remember and to commemorate the moment. You take a photo because you can now. You can go ahead and store it with the other 27,000 photographs you have stored in a cloud somewhere.  Sure you may look at the photographs every so often. Maybe you make collages of the photographs. Point is, that at some time in the next minute or hour, you hope to post the photograph to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter depending on what your social circles care to see and what you hope to prove (demonstrate to others). Are you hoping to prove that you are constantly busy? Are you hoping to prove that you have friends? Are you hoping to prove you have a sense of humor or that you are civically-minded?


Photographs, despite wanting to use them to document the moment, have often become more about proving something to others.  When I started posting to Facebook, it was because I wanted to prove that I existed and that I actually had decided to have a child and that I was liking it. I was using Facebook to prove my younger self wrong. Why I felt that need to do so, well, maybe a psychologist can enlighten me. So, self, why did I do so? Because I like to prove people wrong regardless of who it is, including myself.


For the most part, we now expect people to immediately post their photos onto social media. Here is the funny thing about photo taking nowadays as well. You take a photograph and show it to everyone in the group.  Then, even though you have yet to make a move to post the photograph or even think of doing so, you hear “don’t post that on Facebook.” Immediately, upon taking a photograph in the moment, people’s thoughts turn to whether it is a great photograph to share with others.  If not, then that moment in time you tried to memorialize becomes multiple moments of pretend. For the most part, I would venture to say that, photographs posted on Facebook are just not authentic. They are practiced and posed as they seek to prove some point.


As I often do not post photographs onto Facebook it startled me this past week when someone took a cute moment of us and turned it into a non-postable moment. It was a cute moment and photograph because it was so bad. My son took the photo. His photograph composition was not a bad one. It was bad because he caught us un-posed and looking completely nutty.  I loved the photograph because of its badness. My son’s young eye caught an authentic moment. I hadn’t thought of posting it. However, once I was asked to not do so, I had to go ahead and post it. I kept my promise in that I didn’t post it on Facebook. I have also blurred it so it is not so easy to identify us.  I now look at this photograph and giggle. In a way it feels like the contraband or guerrila art I purchased in Cuba several years ago.


I say live in the moment and not think about whether every single photograph, thought, musical note needs to be put out there for all to review, grade or size you up.


1 reply »

  1. So, if I share your post on Facebook, am I an agent of your nefarious plot to post the photo while maintaining your own innocence?

    I usually ask, and often as not, people don’t mind me posting their photos on Facebook. Sometimes they ask me to. My son’s an exception. He’s not on Facebook and really doesn’t want his pictures on the internet at all. I once paid him weekly dinners at Chipotle for the rights to post any of him receiving fencing tournament awards. But it’s just a matter of privacy, and I respect that.


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