At the beginning of this year, purely on a whim, I looked back at the photos of me that had been uploaded to Facebook over past few months. Between two Christmasses, there were about twelve, most of which had taken on a single special occasion.
I had done basically nothing of note all year long.
I knew that this wasn’t entirely my fault. It was my first year out of university and I’d spent most of it working. I didn’t have anything like the kind of income you can spend on life changing experiences. When I wasn’t scraping together rent, I was doing a lot of low paid and even unpaid work to develop a portfolio that would help me to forge a career in a competitive industry.
Aside from that, though, I did spend a lot of my time just hanging out with my housemates, playing video games and not leaving the house too much.
I didn’t really do anything worth photographing.
For all the good reasons I had to stay in and be relatively dull, I still felt like I’d wasted a whole year.
I was living – and still live – in London, where there are new and exciting free things happening every day that I never took the time to do. Sometimes, this was a matter of not wanting to pay for travel. Other times, I had no excuse. I could’ve gone out and soaked up some of the culture that people pay hundreds of pounds to travel to my city to experience.
Towards the end of the year, I secured myself a better job, doing something I enjoy which provided a more secure if not high income.
I moved into a new place on my own. Here, I had more privacy to more of my own things and the space to think about what I really want to do with my spare time.
Because I had been looking at Facebook photos that inspired my resolution to make my life more interesting, I chose to use it to make the change.
As a social media tool, I’ve found Facebook pretty useful in sharing news pieces without sending it directly to every person who might be interested and in keeping up to date with my friends who have moved across the country and, increasingly, all over the world.
This is the first time I’ve used it just for me.
The idea is also partially based on a TED talk by Cesar Kuriyama that has stuck with me since I first watched it while I was midway through university. In “One Second Every Day”, Kuriyama talks about a project in which he records one second for every day of his life. Then, he can look back over long periods of time in one short video and remember exactly what he did each day.
Between my nine-to-after-five job and the freelance writing I do around it, filming a whole second or even just taking one photo of each day would mean I’d accumulate a lot of boring pictures of computer screens.
But I’m using that feeling of disappointment in how I spent my time, combined with the message at the core of Kuriyama’s message, as motivation to take photos of things I do and, most importantly, to do things worth photographing.
In an age where people don’t keep physical photo albums in the way past generations did, Facebook is the easiest way of collating all the pictures I’ve taken and that others have taken of me. I don’t organise them on my computer as fastidiously as I used to and the way that Facebook sorts them automatically saves me that time.
Looking back over my Facebook now, four months into the 2016, I already have many times more photos than I did for all of last year and they show me doing all kinds of things.
In almost all of them, I’m with friends or family. A lot of them are selfies with people that I’ve made a conscious effort to spend time with, of us out for drinks or dinner. In others, we’re at plays or in museums or at festivals or in short art courses or at street parties. There are photos of me playing with my goddaughter, now that she’s old enough to spend more time out and about.
The benefits of what I’ve done – and fully intend to continue to do – don’t really have that much to do with Facebook itself.
It’s just a helpful tool.
The real difference is in me and it is a change I am proud of making.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.