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One of my daily moments of joy is looking through pictures posted in my social media memories.
I like thinking back to the day the picture was taken, remembering what people said, the laughter, the arguments, how I felt in that moment. It is very much like perusing tangible photo albums, though without the whiff of my mother’s perfume stuck between the pages. It reminds me to take those albums off the bookshelf every so often to look through those pictures as well.
When I was growing up, and even as a young adult, there was such a complete joy in finding a photo album full of old pictures that were new to me, especially when it contained new perspectives of a day I had seen or remembered in a certain way.
Candid pictures of a wedding day. A family in fellowship after the posed shots. A group in the process of pulling themselves together to look in the same direction and smile at the same time. These kinds of pictures warm my heart.
I often wonder, now that we have constant access to our cameras and so many filters and finishings available through apps or social media, if we too quickly delete these memories. I’m concerned we have become so accustomed to posting the perfect pictures that we neglect to see the beauty in the pictures that don’t necessarily make the final cut.
Where do those pictures live now? Do they even exist?
Will my future grandchildren have a full, well-rounded set of pictures of me doing nothing in particular, not looking in the camera, not wearing an outfit perfectly planned from head-to-toe? I just don’t think they will find the same kind of joy in my selfies as I did when I found a picture of my grandmother and my cousins in the kitchen getting ready to eat.
I want some pictures to not share with the world, pictures of living and being with my family and friends. I don’t always want to be concerned about finding my light or the perfect angle. I’m not interested in having a beautifully curated narrative for the public and nothing of authentic value in private.
Our legacies are more than our highlights and always being camera ready. When I’m gone, and my family finds old pictures of me, somewhere in the achievements, the posed moments and the smiles, I hope they find a few with me in my house shoes and a bonnet, a few sweating and toiling in the yard, a few enjoying food and conversation with the people I love.
I pray the people I love take those pictures of me and hold them close. I pray they don’t post or delete them, but save them for a moment in time to be found by a little person who probably looks like me, to fill her heart and give her a moment of joy.
LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.