Stop and look


Jillian Sanders, Editor-in-chief

“Take a picture of us by this tree.”

“Look at this picture of the capitol.”

“I put a filter on this picture of myself and my coffee.”

I hear these sentences spoken everyday, with the frequency increasing exponentially if I’m in a touristy or picture-worthy place. And while there is nothing wrong with taking a few pictures to commemorate, or even prove that you’ve been somewhere, I believe the amount of pictures people take while they are out and about is excessive.

Let me put first and foremost that I am a person driven by logic. In my opinion, if something doesn’t have a valid logical reason, I will not do it. I am also an introvert, and tend to watch more than talk. Henceforth, in my opinion, taking a ton of pictures instead of *gasp* actually seeing what is around you is pointless. However, if you are a photographer or just really, really love taking picture of things you find, then so be it. You do you. What I truly oppose is how our generation is constantly looking at the world through the lenses of their iPhones.

As humans, our eyes were made with excessive complexity and great attention to intricate detail, so why is it that we look at the world through the small, eight megapixel camera lenses of our iPhones? Why not put your phone down, look up and around, and take in panoramic pictures in your mind as you’re walking to the Metro station instead of constantly snapping selfies? I may never know my peers’ answers, but I cannot stress enough the importance of observing the world around you instead of looking at pictures of it through a two-by-three-inch screen.

Our generation is currently worthy of being deemed “the selfie generation.” All around me, people take pictures of themselves hugging a tree, petting a dog, peace-signing at a street. Yes, selfies are fun. But they also contribute to teens’ arrogance and indifference to the bustling, growing, intricate world around them.

Several days ago I toured the Washington D.C. “mall,” and I observed a protest happening at the White House, some Smithsonian museum exhibits, the Lincoln Memorial, and many saxophone-playing street performers. My peers and I also walked upwards of eleven miles from our hotel, to our day’s attractions, and around town.

I guiltily took 13 total pictures on my phone, the majority of them being Snapchats. However, 13 pictures is not that bad. My phone, an iPhone 4s, maintained its battery all day. My friends’ phones, who took upwards of (no joke) 100 pictures, died by lunch. Does this make me better than them? No. Does it mean I’m a snobby, try-hard hipster trying to be cool? Well, maybe. Does it mean I noticed more things only made possible by my human eyes? Yes.

I highly advocate the practice of observing rather than snapping. Take in the details in the leaves and the cracks on the sidewalk, the giggling polka-dotted toddler and the exhausted mother, the birds flying above the skyscrapers and the ants scurrying along the ground. Please. Take note of these things. Just look.