Call me a curmudgeon – I’ve been called much worse – but I have always loathed having my photograph taken.
Pity me now, then, as a helpless victim of a rampant behavioural disorder, a bewildering ailment of which the most prominent symptom is an obsessive and narcissistic urge to take snapshots at every available opportunity, at any kind of social gathering.
If there is no cure in sight, it is largely because those struck down with this social curse have no idea that they are afflicted, and would deny that they had been even if so informed by a qualified medical practitioner. These self-denying symptoms, one might add, are those that create potentially dangerous psychotics.
There was a time, before the advent of the now ubiquitous hand-held multi-media device called a ‘mobile’, when being photographed could easily be avoided. The setting up of a camera shot used to involve a rather formal ritual requiring the adjustment of apertures and the checking of the light – not to mention the insertion of celluloid film – all of which presented an intended victim with a blessed opportunity to melt away into the crowd, or even flee the premises.
There is no escaping now. It would be easier scaling the sheer walls of Colditz Castle, or floating off Devil’s Island on a log.
As a consequence, cocktail parties, and more sadly even dinner parties, have become potentially disagreeable occasions, in which any hope of engaging in extended conversation must invariably be dashed by repeated requests to pose for a multiple-subject ‘selfie’. Worse, the resulting snapshots, once destined to find their way into the anonymous posterity of a battered faux-leather family album, are now more likely to be transmitted to a global audience of millions via a well-known social media site, the name of which I shall (needlessly) refrain from mentioning.
My own admittedly handsome phisog recently whizzed through the ether – naturally without my permission – causing much editorial comment, from dozens of people I scarcely know. The responses, though approving, were unvaryingly dull. Each and every one was captured in a single verb: ‘like’.
Well, you ether-dwellers may have ‘liked it’ – as far as I can tell you like everything and anything – but I did not. This I thought was demonstrated for the occasion in the form of what I thought would be a disqualifying scowl.
Why, then, did nobody say ‘don’t like’. Why did someone not observe, with what would have been commendable veracity? “That’s the worst fucking picture of you I’ve ever seen. And, by the way, you look like death warmed over. Are you ill?”
Some party hosts now even go the trouble and expense of providing their guests with funny face masks – rendering the pictorial exercise entirely pointless – or silly hats, or whimsical headgear such as antlers and mouse ears. I shall be avoiding their sad little functions in future.
I hate to be the dreary spoilsport that I have, in the autumn of my life, apparently become. But as far as I’m concerned, those grinning, swivel-eyed, suburban paparazzi who stalk parties looking for subjects on which to show off their latest miraculous, expensive, status-enhancing gizmos, are the real spoilers.
Get some treatment, is my advice to them. I’m sure the condition is treatable.