It’s Not Vogue, Buddy

The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Holderness School.  The Picador serves to stimulate discourse through the thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas and recognizes that a range of perspectives must be considered in order to foster such discourse. 


The presence of technology in everyday life is undeniable, but for me, there are situations in which the extent of this presence is concerning. As most individuals of this generation, I am an offender of phone overuse. However, over my four years at Holderness, the ever-increasing presence of technology in the community has become palpable. Ultimately, this development has the potential to go against the values of the school, and disturb Holderness’ culture.


“No phones on the path” has become painfully redundant at this point, but the message continuously becomes more germane. My concern, which moved me to write this, is the constantly increasing need for photographs at Holderness. It’s as if students merely attend functions with the objective of obtaining pictures of themselves. The event that opened my eyes to this phenomenon was this years’ Proctor Day bonfire. While in previous years, the bonfire was an unparalleled, outlandish festivity to pump up athletes before their games the following day.  This fall, I noticed a different, distinct matter arise among the majority of the students.


People were literally bulldozing through others in order to get in the frame of Ms. Magnus’ camera. Students were throwing elbows to line up to get the next picture. That was the big event: the photographs, not the actual experience. For the following week, my Instagram feed was saturated with bonfire pictures. I even deleted the app for a few days because each post further highlighted the unassailable weight of  “capturing the moment,” which effectively destroyed the moment.


The second undeniable manifestation of this concern d was when I was selling Thanksgiving dinner portions with Ms. Weymouth and the Meals for Many volunteers here. We were in Weld, selling individual foods to people who wanted to support. I was astounded when two individuals bought one ticket and then requested a photo. The factor that shocked me was that they stood there, waiting for someone to take their picture, merely because they had given a few dollars to a charity. Philanthropy has never harmonized with photo taking, or credit receiving. Never mind the fact that these two individuals had just presented us with no more than five dollars, and desired to spend more time taking a photo than they did actually donating. Ultimately, the donation was selfless, but the act of taking a picture created a sense of selfishness that, in many ways, overshadowed the donation.


While I comprehend the appeal of frequent photography and social media, the photo-taking has overridden the actual events at Holderness. This is an outstanding aspect of the institution’s wholesome culture, and in my three and a half years here, I have seen this phenomenon arise exponentially. Many have noticed it become undeniably existent at all school events: the Christmas Dinner, the Semi-Formal, Valentine’s Day Dinner, Halloween, the list goes on. Holderness does not host all of these events for us to solely photograph them. Pictures are always nice to have, but they should not be the reason to attend functions at Holderness; the memories are.