Social media has created a platform for pretending. On Instagram we can paint whatever picture of our lives that we want, and fit them into perfect little squares and most people would be none the wiser. And that doesn’t mean the experiences people post about aren’t real, but we’re not always keeping it real about what exactly those experiences entailed.
So I’m going to keep it real.
For me, Instagram is a hobby because I find it fun to create pretty pictures that tell the stories of my travels. But that hobby hasn’t come without its ridiculous moments and crazy looks, though a lot of times I laugh at myself for how silly what I’m doing is and then people tend to laugh with me instead of at me (or at least I make up my mind to see it that way). Most bloggers or IGers won’t tell you all the nonsense they’ve done for a shot, but they’ve all done it. Because nothing in life is ever as perfect as a curated Instagram feed makes it look.
Here are four of the craziest (or really, the stupidest) things I’ve done for an Instagram photo and the snaps that go along with it.
1. I gave my phone to a vagrant
So, let me first say that I didn’t knowingly or intentionally give my phone to a vagrant to take my picture. But as the minutes progressed, I realized the error of my ways. I was headed to a conference in the city early one morning when I passed the New York Public Library. The place where everyone goes to take pictures in front of the steps. And it was empty. Like empty empty. I have never in life ever seen that place not littered with selfie-ists. So I said to myself this is my moment. And since I’m not a selfie-ist, I had to find a photographer. And lo and behold, there was one man sitting at a bistro table reading a book. He looked safe and not vagranty, so I asked him to take my picture. He was nice, he said yes and he took the picture. (Remember I said strangers often take my photos?) But then he trapped me in a conversation in which he said he was waiting for his wife, but the more he talked and the more he repeated the same thing and the pieces to his story got weirder and really hard to believe, the more I realized there was no wife. And the book was a freebie they’d give you at a conference in 1980 about how to be a salesman but it was filled to the brim with all sorts of random pamphlets and hardly legible. He may not have been a vagrant but there were definitely some marbles missing. And considering there were hardly any people around except the two of us, this wasn’t my smartest moment. Lesson: don’t judge a potential photographer by its cover.
2. I stopped traffic on the Brooklyn bridge to stand on my head
I’m not exactly sure where I got this idea from, but I think as soon as I learned to do a headstand without the help of a wall, I suddenly wanted to do it on the Brooklyn Bridge of all places. So once my photographer (also known as my dad) came to town, I lured him into this project. My mom’s job was to tell me when not too many people were coming and my dad had to get the shot. Sounds simple enough. Except I got stage fright. I’d start the headstand and then fall out. I’d start it again and then get spooked by the people passing by. I’d start it again and almost make it all the way up and then fall out before the picture was taken. It was ridiculous, really. And it’s not like it was really early in the morning when there was nearly no one around. There were people everywhere. And how embarrassing to be trying to do something cool but instead looking very uncool failing at it over and over again. At one point, I sat on a bench on the bridge and almost gave up hope. But I’m stubborn when I set my mind to something, so I tried one last time and did it. I was happy to have the shot in the end, but I really can’t believe I did that. Lesson: for photos where crowds go, at least try to do your ridiculous thing when it’s not peak traffic time.
3. I stepped over meth needles across from what were probably meth houses
To be fair, I also didn’t knowingly get cozy with all this meth stuff. I was very innocently heading to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas when I saw the most beautiful colored wall ever. I was in a car that I wasn’t driving and therefore feared I’d have to leave the wall behind, but then I realized the Neon Museum was just a block up from my wall and I set my mind on getting to it. Except the Neon Museum, and the wall, are in a very sketchy part of Vegas. And the wall happened to be across the street from some very sketchy residences that some very sketchy people were loitering around. Still, I was undeterred. And since I had my dad in tow, I figured it was fine (I most certainly would have given up on the wall if I was solo. I’m not that crazy). Upon arrival at said wall (which happened to be in a fenced off gravel lot) I noticed broken glass on the ground and discarded needles and all manner of up-to-no-good paraphernalia. But by then I was there, so I got my picture and got out. Lesson: if something looks sketchy, it’s probably sketchy.
4. I trespassed for the perfect stoop
When I’m not traveling, I try to highlight Brooklyn, so what better than a stoop photo? Except the stoop where I live wasn’t the one I wanted. So I searched nearby until I found the right one. I actually knocked on the door to politely ask if I could take the photo (it’s Park Slope and these people were neighbors-ish, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds). But no one answered. So I asked the contractor who happened to be arriving to work on the house next door to take the picture. And this would all have been less weird if it was an openly accessible stoop, but it was the kind I had to open a gate (which said no trespassing) to get to. Lesson: there are other stoops in the sea.
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