First, my apologies for being gone so long…I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut and also totally preoccupied by my own birthday as well as my mom’s 60th. However, all those birthdays have brought my train of thought to the latest station: the weird social phenomenon that is the birthday picstitch.
What are you even talking about? This may be your first question – if you’re a Facebook or Instagram user you might have seen those collages
people girls tend to put together, featuring a bunch of photos. The app I use is called Picstitch (although there are certainly others) which is why I refer to the resulting collage by the same name. These creations tend to crop up on people’s birthdays, especially. I have been both the designer and recipient of one in the last two weeks (see below: top was made by me, bottom was made for me). Also yes, our birthdays are close together, hence both collages feature the same people.
Putting one of these bad boys together is a bit of a process: you have to find the pictures you like/want, take screenshots of them or pictures of them with your phone, figure out a layout that works, place everything, edit as needed, then upload to the medium of your choice. Perhaps this doesn’t seem like the biggest deal, but as someone who is a bit of a perfectionist, especially when it comes to my creative work, I take the selection/design process pretty seriously.
With that in mind, why do people decide to spend any amount of time making a photo collage that then gets disseminated across a whole bunch of social media outlets on their friends’ birthdays? This is my big question, and I would love to hear people’s opinions on the answer. I can’t put my finger on when this became a thing, nor do I know why, but what I do know is that it definitely is a thing. There’s a sort of unspoken expectation that one of these will likely get made for you on your birthday by one of your close friends, and once it’s made, it will then be released to the masses to acquire lots of “likes”. Maybe this is just the case for me and a fair amount of people I know…in which case, I guess we’re all the weird ones? I don’t think it’s just us though – I see a lot of them floating around.
How weird is it though that this practice just randomly bubbled up until it became a norm or an obligation? Admittedly, there are a lot of strange norms nowadays (here’s looking at you Snapchat and Tinder) but this one strikes me as especially odd because it accompanies rituals as old as the birthday card. I would love to know who the first person was to think to themselves, “It’s my bestie’s birthday – I already get her a card but I’d better get cracking on making a digital collage fashioned from other digital pictures!”
One final point of confusion…when I post these in Instagram or Facebook, why do people that don’t even know my friend like these collages? Is it because they’ve seen her in pictures with me before? Is it because they wish to applaud what look like a great friendship? Is it perhaps because they’re impressed by my collaging abilities? #somanyquestions
Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that we all do this? DO we even all do this?
Disclaimer: I’m not saying I don’t enjoy giving and receiving these little guys – I do. I’m just confused about the origins of the behavior that I sometimes feel to obligated to perform!