Your camera should not be my lens

I don’t want to start this blog entry with the typical, “I couldn’t believe my eyes” statement. That’s trite, right? I’m a writer. I should be beyond trite.

But I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Within the past few months, I’ve seen things on social media I never wanted to see.

So, I thought I’d write a little note to anyone who cares.

Dear social media friend:

I love your posts, for the most part. But lately, there have been a few instances in which I’ve wanted to reach through my computer screen, grab you by the shoulders and say: “For Chrissake, put down the damn camera!”

To the unnamed person who was posting as her spouse was being loaded into an ambulance to be rushed to the hospital for chest pains: Honey. Put down the damn phone. Your husband could be DYING. At the very least, he is in extreme pain. This is a moment you need to be in, fully, no matter how hard it is. To even consider taking a photo to share with the world when your husband could be between life and death stymies me.

To the peach who sent overly bloody photos of her child’s emergency room visit: Oy. Just, oy. Your son is less than 10. He may look brave but he’s bleeding all over the stinkin’ hospital floor and looks quite pained. Let me say it again: This is a moment you need to be in, fully, no matter how hard it is. He needs you right now. Your arm around him. Your comforting words. That worried, yet reassuring mom gaze that we all craved when we got hurt as a child. Why are you informing us of what happened instead of tending to him? We can wait. Honestly.

And, to the exhibitionist who decided sending us a pic of her daily fertility shot was a stellar idea: No thanks. Your fertility is your business. Really. No, I insist.

I could go on. Unbelievable, right? There are more. But I won’t.

I’ll just say this one last thing: Your camera should not be my lens. Not all the time. Show me your pics of Rome. Show me your daughter proudly displaying a well-won trophy. But in the critical moments, good or bad, just BE there. For whoever you are with. For whoever matters to you.

Now, it’s time for me to exit this little blogging window to the world and get back to living in my real physical world. I have a son I’ve missed who is coming home from a trip and I’ll want to greet him with all of my attention. I have a real, live in-person meeting with a friend. And, separately, a difficult goodbye to get through.

That last real-world event is one I’d like to skip. Or, at the very least, to have support during. But, I promise I will not videotape it live for your viewing pleasure.

Some moments are just meant to be lived, not recorded.

Words to live by. Emphasis on “live.”


54 Comments Add yours

  1. I used to think that. Later I realized, some people just don’t know what is better for them. Others, a rare commodity, do NEED to visually record them. It is the same kind of need as us bloggers

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ll buy that premise. But, I think many of the visual recorders Are just satisfying an ego need to be the star of a play of their own making. That I don’t have much patience for.

      1. Most of them are just satisfying their Egos

      2. candidkay says:

        I won’t argue with that!

  2. fritzdenis says:

    I teach drawing classes and have trouble getting students to put down their phones and sink into deep observation of the world around them. They find it painful to spend five or six hours carefully drawing an object. A Spanish painter named Alberto Garcia Lopez spends years working on his paintings. He once attempted to paint a lemon tree in his yard, but couldn’t finish it. He kept the canvas, however. He said it reminded him of the wonderful times he had getting to know the tree, and spoke of the tree as if it were an old friend.

    1. candidkay says:

      I wonder if an artist like that sees things differently and the rest of us. I wish that I could see through his eyes for a few minutes so I could see how that lemon tree appears to him.

  3. Amy says:

    Couldn’t possibly agree more with you on this topic.

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    I don’t look at Facebook much anymore, except for the pages of my loved ones, and sometimes I regret doing even that. I’m especially put off by those who celebrate every birthday and anniversary by telling Facebook in detail about their undying, glowing, wondrous love for the person being celebrated. When I see such posts, I think, “Why aren’t you telling your loved one about your feelings privately and face to face instead of me? I’m not really interested.” It’s especially galling when I know the couple involved and the true nature of their relationship. Whew! Thanks for writing wise words that allowed me to vent.

    1. candidkay says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I know a woman who posts on Facebook constantly and write the post as if she is writing directly to her children. Each post is about some accomplishment of theirs. I have the same question you do: why is she not telling them this over the breakfast table rather than in a public forum such as Facebook. It’s because it’s not for them, it’s for us. It is PR about a life I know she is not living because I’ve gotten a peek inside. In the end, that’s just sad.

  5. Kristine. Yes. All of it, yes. I’m a big fan of social media as a means of staying connected and putting my “happy face” out there even when I’m huddled under a pile of blankets reading pulp historical fiction. But there are some (too many) that have turned social media into their means of interpreting and validating their lives. When Facebook has to tell us whether or not a moment in our life is “likable,” we’re not living anymore. Enjoy living the good life (and don’t forget to share pics 😉 )

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Gabe. As I read your comment, I am gritting my teeth because the worst of my social media offender friends has posted for about the 6th time in 24 hrs. We are living every second of the family’s flu virus. Ugh.

      1. hehehe you know what facebook really needs to do? they need to enable a scrolling newsfeed at the bottom of posts (the same ones we enjoy soooo much on CNN) so we can get nearly instantaneous​ updates on these “breaking news” moments.
        hmmmmm we might have to delete this comment. There may actually be a market for this kind of thing and we don’t want to give up the goods without compensation 😉

  6. bone&silver says:

    Yes, I agree too! I’m so glad I found your blog; mine is kinda similar, but very new, and I’ve just turned 50, but the online dating doesn’t get any easier I’m afraid (fun though it is). Cheers from Australia, G

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for the shout-out from the land Down Under! I will have to check out your blog also. Cheers:).

  7. I totally agree, Kristine. Then there the “sad sacks,” forever complaining and pissed about life. I’ve de-followed more than a few lately. Yes, over-sharing is a big liability on Facebook. Ugh.

  8. Spyro says:

    Well – you get a super nova star for this one. There are moments – great & horrible – that we live. Only moments, but a large part of us anyway. The thought of not living them – even the horrible ones – some how is diminishing. It is in moments where we are needed most. Why loose them to take a video? Maybe more of us feel as you do. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re right–we rob ourselves of living by doing it secondhand through a lens!

  9. George says:

    What compels people. Really. Do they not have a filter or ask themselves the most obvious of questions? Thanks for posting this. Let’s hope it helps just one person to think before acting. Just one. Please?

    1. candidkay says:

      I ask myself the same thing, George. The woman who posted re: the ambulance tends to post multiple times per day–and it’s almost as if she feels she is starring in her own movie. But life should not be lived so others see us in a certain light. It should be lived in the first person, in my opinion.

      1. George says:

        Absolutely, otherwise it’s all smoke and mirrors.
        You must have a lot of patience. I’s have a tough time following someone who posts multiple times a day.i’ve tried and couldn’t do it. Isn’t that what Twitter is for?😊

      2. candidkay says:


  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    Well said Kristine. New social media has allowed the worst kind of exhibitionism – God knows what some people are thinking. Fortunately they can easily be zapped and ignored forever more.

    1. candidkay says:

      True, Roy. At least we still have the power to curate much of what we see. Which is more than I can say for the last dinner party I attended:).

  11. Can I like triple-star “like” this. I am so in with you on this! I’m seriously worried about where this crazy social media world is going. What people post, talk about, pics, tweets and Instagram… it’s truly bizarre. But in the same way, they don’t see it as bizarre at all. It’s “normal” for them and that is scary for sure!

    1. candidkay says:

      Right! Our boundaries keep slipping–sometimes in the wrong direction. I think people get desensitized to it.

  12. Great post Kristine. We are role models and mentors to our children and each other. You are right, this is not a good message to send out to anyone and at the end of the day our children need our attention and love, not our social media likes 😬🙄

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks! Especially because many of our kids grew up with device in hand, I think it’s our job to show them how to live in the physical.

  13. Faith says:

    Yes to all of this! Social media can easily make every last detail of our lives seem trivial. Sometimes we need to take a break and allow ourselves to be overcome by the moment instead of endlessly trying to document it. One of the many reasons I love WordPress: It seems to be filled with thinkers and observers. So refreshing! Thanks for this post, I look forward to reading more!

    1. candidkay says:

      I like the way you put it–“allow ourselves to be overcome by the moment.” Perfecto. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  14. Another post deserving of a standing ovation. Time for people to stop using smart phones as a shield to keep them from actually living. Wonderful job on this — again!

    1. candidkay says:

      I really do think there’s a movie in here somewhere, right? About how increasingly desensitized we become when device is our interface with the world.

  15. kitaredd says:

    I stood up at my desk and clapped. This so needed to be said. I thought I was the only person who felt that not EVERYTHING needs to be shared. People have forgotten how to “be there fully”.

    1. candidkay says:

      A standing ovation! I’ll take it:). Thank you. Here’s to being truly present today!

  16. Dale says:

    The number of times I have to pick my jaw up off the floor astounds me. I am a “Kid Kodak” re: sharing what I’m doing (on my own or with a friend) but I cannot believe the stuff out thereééé

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you! I’m sure you have stories to tell:).

      1. Dale says:


  17. suemclaren24 says:

    Absolutely. Thank you for saying it.

    1. candidkay says:

      Future civilizations will look back and shake their heads!

  18. dinnerbysusan says:

    Oh my goodness, why doesn’t WordPress have a “love” button? Yes! Thanks! Sometimes I want to shout, “You’re missing the show!” to the hordes of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, grammies, papas and anyone else I’ve missed who are taking pics and posting instead of watching and participating.

    1. candidkay says:

      I recently had a wise Facebook friend post pictures of her daughter and the state gymnastics tournament. She left a professional photographer take the pictures so she could enjoy an experience the moment with her daughter. I loved that.

  19. Kat says:

    Oh this is REALLY good! Another thing I have seen is people taking videos/photos of others in a car accident or who have injured themselves – I can’t understand why would they capture these events? They could have used that time to help the poor souls. I love your last comment – emphasis on “live” – which reminds me, not Facebook Live! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s awful, right? Like they’re watching a fictitious storyline versus someone’s life event.

  20. I remember somewhere in my youth trying desperately to get that ‘wonder’ shot of something Kristine…to completely stuff it up AND miss the moment to boot. I think it was a once in a lifetime mother whale and calf surfacing right next to us…the moment would have been sublime to experience it. I suppose I’ll get another chance…its only been 15 years since it happened….and not a ripple in the water anywhere. I keep looking…and remembering what could have been 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh! I’m sure they’ll give you another chance. Nature seems to reward hard-earned wisdom:).

  21. Rachel McAlpine says:

    How did we come to this? One person at a time,I suppose. And now a murderer posts a video of his deed not on the dark web but on Facebook. Thanks for this snapshot of reality.

    1. candidkay says:

      Right. I’m waiting for the dystopian movie that comes out about this. There must be one in the works.

  22. Su Leslie says:

    Beautifully put; and so needed to be said.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks. Am hating the lens we put as barrier between us and a real experience.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Me too. It’s an insidious filter that acts to depersonalise and allow people to abdicate responsibility towards others.

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