"For many of us, however, the practice of taking, gathering, and sharing images is simply a resistance against ourselves. The narratives we tell through our creation and consumption of images contradict our lives as we live them. For example, in a 2016 “Modern Love” essay for the New York Times, Sage Cruser described the role that social media played in a recent relationship, doomed from the beginning. To assuage her anxiety about being “the rebound girl,” she indulges in crafting an impenetrably perfect relationship in images: “On Facebook, I was able to exclude the negative … and showcase not only how I wanted others to see us but how I wanted to see us.” This didn’t work, and she describes how, later, she quarantined these memories, dropping them all into a folded buried in her computer called “Do Not Open.” From there, she writes, it was easier to heal.
In our personal lives, such narrative revision is a process of cleaning that has no clear boundaries, no obvious end point. Excessive deletion — obsessive emotional cleansing — can fabricate a persona that’s closer to object than subject — a surface without subjectivity. In The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson posits identity as an ever-shifting amalgam of experiences and relationships we drag along with us as we sail on, like Homer’s ever-patched and repaired Argo. To deny certain experiences and relationships is to punch our hulls full of holes."