Photoshop ~ Another Tool of Self-Deception
second from right, decided to have her ex-husband
(guess who?) removed from the picture with Photoshop."
Self-deception is a powerful impulse. We're all tempted at times to construct narratives in which our motives and actions are uniformly admirable and where the 'black' in our black and white vision rests with others. Conversely, we too often seek to construct narratives of our lives in which our relations with others - friends, relatives, co-workers - are so sanitized as to be unrecognizable. This story in The New York Times about people Photoshopping their lives and relations makes my skin crawl. It makes me want to shout 'Be an adult!' ~ recognize that relationships consist in multiple people each of whom is responsible for successes and complicit in failures. Perhaps the measures are unequal, perhaps even markedly so, but rarely are tales of uncontaminated heroism or victim-hood even close to reality.
The people described in this story are using photographs to sanitize their lives and, in the process, apportion blame and responsibility. They seem to me to be like those I know who dump therapist after therapist because the latter tell them things they don't want to hear. They remind me of other people I know who toss down anti-depressants without even consulting a psychologist. They remind me of whole families I know where individual members respond to hurt and stress and conflict by running away, literally. All these folks are evading responsibility, or trying to. The problem is that responsibility and its consequences tend to lurk around corners waiting to pop out uninvited, often in the form of other family members (say, kids) who ask inconvenient questions and expect honest answers.
Looking at pictures is like looking in the mirror. If you cannot look at the actual pictures and even try to remember the good parts or recognize your own role in whatever unpleasantness was transpiring, maybe that's a signal that you need to face reality instead of erasing it.
End of rant, for now.
Labels: Meaning and Use