How 24-hour stories came to capture ‘life stories’

The 24-hour stories on social media platforms reinstate the transience of life.

Advertisements
“The life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself.”
-Italo Calvino, Difficult Loves

First Snap stories, then Instagram stories, followed by WhatsApp statuses; and now Messenger Day seems to be the newest kid on the block. With the most frequently used social media platforms doing the 24-hour story game right, it seems like it won’t be long before our social media experience will be engulfed by the anxiety of posting, checking who viewed the posts and viewing others’ posts.

For instance

You go to have pizza with friends, one of whom has to leave in 30 minutes. You are all killing time until the pizza arrives. In those 10 minutes, one of you takes her phone out and starts clicking pictures/shooting Boomerangs while you don’t notice them doing it. You start doing the same. The others do the same. This is how all your other friends get to know within seconds that you all are hanging out to have pizza.

Each of you upload stories on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Considering an average of 2 minutes spent on each application, you spend a total of 8 minutes in posting stories if you do not want  to be the one whose stories deliver nothing new to followers. By the one who reluctantly started sharing stories 2 minutes after the others did, completes the business, the pizza is here.

Once the pizza is served, each one posts a story of it. These were pictures of the entire pizza, mind you. You also have to post a picture of after your slice is on your plate. Assuming this process took you 4 minutes in all, the friend who’s got to leave in 30 minutes has 16 minutes in hand. She starts eating her food. Before you realise, she has to leave but before she leaves, “let me click a selfie”.

In the entire time spent with friends, when did you stop to talk to each other?

You discussed about how the pizza tastes, which place offers better pizza and when you last ate at this particular eatery. Did you discuss how your heart ached at three this morning for a moment that will never return? Did you recall memories of the time you first met each other?

Aesthetic Consumerism

Photographs, which are meant to be souvenirs of experiences one has already had, have now become a means to actualize the experience. This is something Susan Sontag had foreseen long before the dystopia we are living in had been materialised.

You live in an economy that runs on envy.

If the picture of the delectable pizza posted by your friend did not water your mouth, you would not go to that eatery the next weekend itself. If you did not envy the quality of pictures your friend posts with an iPhone, you would not have bought an iPhone. If you did not envy the car your neighbour drives, you would not have bought your second car.

The culture of consumption that willingly or unwillingly we are a part of, demands that we struggle for a better pizza, phone, car. It demands that we make our lives look worth envy with post-processed photographs. It may increase the illusory aesthetic quotient of our daily experience, but it is certain to create an experience of reality as we desire it to be.

1216x912x2
Image Source

Why post stories?

Why post stories when you can actually make posts that stay permanently on your Facebook or Instagram wall? The answer is nothing you have not known till date. Stories let you post many times without actually spamming anyone. They let you post stuff that you would not want to keep on your timeline either because they are not aesthetically very pleasing or because they capture in essence the transience of the moments you want to show to the world.

However, the most important reason for posting stories is to capture moments that you know won’t last long. You are living a moment which your followers are not.

This is a subversion of the very idea of photography and videography because instead of capturing moments so that they last for a long time, one now captures moments simply to share them with the rest of the world for a short period. This moment in history is one of self-reflection – it reveals that we lose the moment in the attempt to immortalise it. It reminds us of the transience of life itself and questions if one really document a life story in public moment through social media stories. It makes Emily Dickinson all the more relevant:

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

Featured Image Courtesy: Visual Hunt

A Rainy Ride through Memories

1.jpg

Raindrops accumulate on the surface of glass like metaphors abandoned by poets for eons- unwanted and intimidating because they disclose more about scattered pieces of miracles than you ever would want to let out. The little you can discern from among the raindrops is all that the city lets you see. The ellipses between parked yellow cabs really are the words that were shushed as soon as thought-parachutes were released up in the air. This city under its colourful everyday hides heaps of dusty grey rags in its drains and when it gets waterlogged, the freshwater and dirt, dirt and freshwater are hard to be distinguished from each other. It’s pretty much the same with memories.

2

The rain-washed streets are testimony to all that you have shut out of your senses. The glass window of your car does not let the past drench you. As you traverse the city that you like to call your own, the air conditioning blows hard on the commonplace odour-remnants of your past, so as not to make you cringe anymore. What is the loud music that you are playing, but your desperate attempt to pick, choose and thrust memories into the trashcan of make-believe stories that you have been concocting ever since an undelivered letter was mashed in the heavy showers of what seems like a bygone era? You keep playing the song that has enmeshed itself to get trapped in a particular situation, merely relying on those poor auditory nerves to recreate the pathos of a past moment. You speed up your car more than ever, without realising that it is not the empty avenues you are crossing, but actually your past that is haunting you to pace up.

3.jpg

You have been a conjunction amidst sentences that Eternity has been pronouncing since forever. These sentences have punished you enough for all the mistakes you are yet to commit. You have not felt a lot of emotions, just as you have felt a lot of them. Rewind a bit. Have you not waited as impatiently as a writer does for that one email from a publisher? Have you not, in the hopelessness of rejected fantasies, hovered like an aimless satellite in a galaxy of unicorns? Have you not felt that all the persons whom you have ever bumped into were cities- each having their most happening areas alongside the darkest of alleys which nobody prefers to inhabit; have you not wondered once they outgrew you as to where you did go wrong, and racked your brain in search of an answer later on? If you could embrace this series of infinity, you can combat all that lies ahead in this city which is nothing but a simile for change.

4.jpg

Who ever loved that yearned not for miracles thinking of the sky as a wish-granting factory while sitting by the window during heavy showers? Get out of that comfort zone. Immerse yourself in the clichés that you have been hell-bent on avoiding. Go, get drenched in the rain. After that, as you gaze at the paper boats of childhood, the dream-loaded cargoes of the decades when they wanted you to be an adult, and the scattered mud pools of hope which nobody ever wished to take back home, let your past to the rain. You will know why this city never lets you die with dilemmas unresolved.