These photos will not change your life.
Titillate me. Enlighten me. Blow my mind. Lately I’ve noticed an explosion of videos, photo series, “memes” and so forth on the web, all promising some perception-altering experience, should I click on the link. Maybe you’ve seen them, too.
There’s an image to hook you. Maybe the blurry first frame of some compilation of cat videos, or the first of a series of photos documenting a tragic yet uplifting account of someone’s life drama. A story of some encounter between colliding values, where the set up for the story lays the expectation based on a negative view of human nature, but then there’s a twist where selflessness and altruism win the day!
Often, the link comes with some breathless excited testimony in the first person – This may just be the most important message you’ll ever hear… implying that a person – a real human and not a public relations professional – endorses the genuineness of what awaits me… should I click the link. Always, a true story is at the base of it, and for this I’m told I should be especially awed, humbled, and moved. When I click the link.
Redemption: click here.
I’ve even seen some of these – mostly videos of inspirational speeches or just celebrities – where the elated witness to the vid has provided me with a second-by-second guide to keep me from straying off the path of enlightenment to alert me as to when the mind-blowing is about to happen. You’ve got to see this. At 0:15 he lays it down… then at 2:32 he completely opens it up… (whatever the hell that means).
I’m not sure why, but I’ve come to deeply resent these formulaic packaged teasers being dangled before me. Something in me cringes at the suggestion that my path to having my mind ‘blown’ needs be shaped by the confines of facebook’s optimal upload size, TED’s talk limit, or by some hipster’s giddy excitement over 4 minutes of clever social commentary. But none of it is genuine, I should think. Probably more a guerrilla marketing trend. Which is a pity because the photos, stories, and vids shared in those links can actually be pretty interesting.
But whatever happened to “Hey check this out, you might like it”?
This is the thing: I like inspiration just fine, I just prefer to work for it a bit.
So these are some photos I took last week. They will not change your life, no. Just things I saw. It was cold, the dogs wore little socks, some of those subway stations look like they’d been repeatedly shelled, grubbiness met gentrification. Urban grit.
I was unmoved. Humanity was not redeemed, no spirits uplifted, no emancipation. My mind was not blown. But I am still glad to have been there, to have used my eyes and my feet. To have work a bit.