Social Media Experiments, Photos and Serendipity

I don’t print pictures anymore. And I’m sad about that.

I need to do it more. It’s a determination I made after unpacking several boxes in the new condo in the new city. Amid all that newness, I ached for the familiar and found it at the bottoms of boxes, in stacks of old photos, un-filed, haphazard, ranging across years, continents, work and play. Me — with a few more strands of hair making their last stand on the top of my head — crouching in a photo with the crew and a celebrity host of a nature documentary. Me, among friends, family and loved ones, younger and smilier. Me, and that person I wish I knew better. Us.

That serendipity doesn’t come electronically. Not in the same way. It’s one thing to stumble across a folder on a hard drive. It’s another to find a faded print, or a postcard with the ink even more faded away, with only the pen impressions still legible on the shiny white stock.

A day after discovering those boxes I got something in the mail: A simple white envelope with this printed sheet of a self-portrait inside. My friend Lisa in the lower right, hidden behind a pair of goggles on her forehead, huddled under a wall with mementos posted for consideration.

She placed post-its on the print out to say what the things were. “OK comments about a piece of my work.”

Arrows point to a “Blank wolf card” and an “eye patch from October performance.”

At the bottom, a notation of the day the piece was post-marked: “finally got stamps.”

And an explanation of the camouflaged apparatus on Lisa’s head: “Monday I finally turned on EYE MASSAGER I bought from a Chinese site last semester.” And below, she wrote “you can plug them into your USB, but otherwise they kind of suck.”

I really don’t know much about Lisa’s social media experiment, other than she asked us all to send us our snail mail addresses, and I’ve seen other folks on Facebook who have gotten gizmos that record audio and instructions on what to do with it in their mailboxes.

I have been pondering this simple printout and post-its. Happy just to play along, and glad it sparked me further to start printing out images on paper — for my future biographer, for me when I move again down the road, for someone else’s grandkids.


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