Sound Advice Thursday: The Instagram Addict’s Lover

Happy Thursday everyone! I’m introducing an exciting new feature to my blog. To compliment Book Review Tuesdays, I’ll now be offering Sound Advice Thursdays, in which all of your burning questions on manners, relationships, and other human interactions will be decisively answered, or at the very least, guessed at. Please send questions to with subject line Advice.

I'm listening.
I’m listening.

Dear Steph:

I spend most of my free time with my boyfriend, whom I adore. The problem is that we have radically different views on what’s an appropriate amount for him to use his iPhone camera when we’re together. While I would rather that we take in our life as it comes and create genuine memories – like, in our minds – he would prefer to record every second of every day by taking photos with his iPhone. I understand that this is a decision he’s made on how he wants to live his life, but it’s not the way I want to live my life and it leads to a lot of conflict.

My main issues with his constant photo-journaling are: 1) I don’t like to be photographed all the time, 2) I don’t like taking pictures in front of people, and 3) I don’t want to have my own ability to process experiences determined by him in that way. But he’s addicted to taking photos and then posting them on social-media sites for his friends to enjoy. What do you suggest?

Living with a Paparazzo

Dear LWAP,

I must confess that I, like your darling boyfriend, am a digital shutterbug. I whip out my iPhone and take Instagram photos in line at the grocery store or while having a romantic dinner with my husband. So perhaps I am not the most objective person to offer advice on this particular issue. But maybe I can give you a window into the psyche of the compulsive photo-taker. People like your boyfriend and me like to take photos partly to maintain a visual record of our lives so that we won’t forget our experiences, but also partly to demonstrate to others what we’re up to. It’s not easy to admit, but some of the allure of posting photos on certain social media sites (which shall remain nameless) is to show off. There, I said it.

But in order to scratch the twin itches of recording memories for posterity and showing off, one or two photos at each event, activity, or place should suffice even for the avid iPhone photographer. There’s no need to live behind the lens of the camera unless you’re being paid for it, I say.

I think a compromise can be reached here. Tell your boyfriend that while you think he’s a fabulous photographer, the Instagram equivalent of Ansel Adams, you wish he’d confine himself to one or two photos at each activity or event in your lives. Explain that you don’t want your picture taken often and don’t enjoy posing in front of other people. Request that after he’s captured the moment, then the camera should be put away so that you two can enjoy your time together, sans technology. Explain that while you don’t want to ban his photographic efforts entirely, you enjoy his company more when he’s not squinting at you from behind an iPhone. As a cautionary tale, you might also show him this video, which demonstrates the perils of Instagram obsession.

However, as for your not wanting your memories and experiences to be shaped by his photos, you, my dear, are in control of that. If his photographic portfolio warps your memories, simply don’t look at it, or else record the memories in your own way, by keeping a journal, for example.

Yours, Steph

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