I went to a festival and didn’t take a single picture.
It’s true. Nor did anyone else in my group. There is no record of my attending the festival except for the wristband I cut off a few days later.
I’m not going to pretend that we were trying out a social experiment, or that we were trying to be different, it just happened. I don’t have a camera, the boys in my group weren’t concerned about photography, and the only other girl didn’t bring a camera either. Halfway through the festival, I remarked to her that we hadn’t taken a single picture, and she scrunched up her nose and said, ‘neither have I… I hate being in pictures anyway.’
It was, quite honesty, liberating. I hate to sound like an OAP harping on about young people and their darned screens, but I felt like I could truly throw myself into the experience. I didn’t have to care about what I looked like, because I was with my closest friends and everyone else I was unlikely to ever see again, or remember. So I didn’t have to try and put on make-up using a tiny mirror, I didn’t have to put little face-paint dots in a wavy line on my face, and best of all I wasn’t even tempted to buy ridiculously overpriced flower head garments or Indian headdresses. I didn’t miss anything the comedians were saying or any dance moves or stage dives by musicians as I fumbled for my phone or watched through the limited screen.
I’ll admit, when I got back I did stare at my Facebook a bit blankly and think, ‘I can’t even change my profile picture’, but on the whole I don’t feel like I’m missing anything at all. For me and my friends we now have lots of inside jokes and memories to remember the festival with, and that’s honestly enough for me.
Is the social networking era adding extra pressure to social events like these? Years ago, looking (and smelling) gross was par for the course at festivals, but I noticed that young people in particular at the festival were very concerned about how the look. Is this influenced by the knowledge that there will be a permanent record, for all of your Facebook friends to see? I hope not, but considering how I just couldn’t face the queue for the communal showers and resorted to very poor dry shampoo instead, I have to admit I’m pretty pleased there is no photographic evidence of my appearance by the end of the festival.