When you go out, do you: a) have fun with your friends, or b) snap pictures on your cell phone to post on Facebook? If you chose the latter, you may have a mobile uploading problem. And it may be time to stop. These blurry, dimly-lit smartphone pics have become pervasive recently, the latest article of self-indulgence to clog my News Feed.
I first became aware of the mobile uploads phenomenon last fall; as a Philly-local junior, I tracked my friends’ European adventures through their online albums. Their instantaneous picture-posting allowed me to keep up with their exploits and, perhaps because of my slight abroad envy, I didn’t find the photos offensive. Needless to say, my views have since changed.
Penn students are an interesting breed; despite our different classes, extracurriculars and social scenes, we all crave the same things: attention and recognition. Mobile uploads — often shortened to the cringe-inducing “muploads” — provide an easy avenue for getting noticed. With a quick snap of your camera phone and the addition of a witty caption, all of your 1,000-plus Facebook friends can know where you are and who you’re with. In this way, mobile uploads have become a sort of social currency; you’re only as cool as your last mupload makes you seem.
In addition to the standard descriptive mobile upload — “Pitchers at Smoke’s!!!” — a new, equally alarming variety has emerged. The “inside joke” mupload features an image and caption that are virtually incomprehensible to all but a few (drunken) friends. The meaning of that Allegro’s pepperoni slice or street sign might not be obvious to most, but the photos are just as attention-seeking as any other; the photographer may as well have captioned the image, “See? I have friends!”
I am by no means against taking pictures or posting Facebook albums. My main issue with mobile uploads is this: the desire to broadcast the events of the night is starting to outweigh the desire to enjoy the night itself. Whereas using Facebook used to be an activity relegated to downtime at home; the opportunity to share (and overshare) has crept into every Beige block house, crush party and campus bar.
Last weekend, I played an especially great game of Kings. The first King was drawn early in the game, and it fell to one of my friends to create a rule. A near-compulsive BBMer, she surprised everyone with her rule: “Phones away for the rest of the game.” Despite our initial groans of protest, we agreed post-game that the rule was, in fact, a welcome addition — without anything to distract us, the fun of the game became our focus. Sure, a picture of our last disastrous Waterfall could have been a great mobile upload, but maybe you just had to be there.