Everything’s Filtered

Screenshot 2023 09 04 At 10.47.10 Am

Everything’s Filtered

Chris Davis


“The light in me” seems to be a mess of pixels.


EVERYTHING’s filtered.

I was listening to someone complain about how SO much of life is online these days. I agreed and disagreed.

Then it was something about how much is lost over Zoom — nonverbal cues, body language, unconscious behaviors that are a part of “experiencing” another person. Ouch. That’s half my life right now.

Then I thought, “yeah, BUT…”

I don’t know that I always want to be experiencing everybody in their Full Manifested Glory all the time.

Besides, how alert were YOU, before the pandemic as you went through your day? Did you really give people your undivided attention? Were you always open to everyone’s radiant selves when you met people at work, in stores, at school, on the sidewalk?

All the time? Now and then? Not-quite-never but not-too-often?

I’ll bet you were mostly focused on your own thing, your own life. You filtered out everything else if it wasn’t important to you.

There used to be this #nofilter tag that people would emphasize on Instagram. Years ago, before people complained about “the algorithm.” Before the feeds got jammed with ads & it became hard to find the people you thought you were following.

The app had just a few preset filters. Each one would give your photo a distinct retro look. Like snapshots you’d pick up from a photo booth, developed from rolls of film you’d left in some junk drawer for months.

The #nofilter tag got kinda snobby, mostly showing off the fact that SOME people had great shots from the newest phone with the nicest camera — improvements were dramatic and fast, especially with each new iPhone model.

#nofilter pretends that the camera itself isn’t a filter, like it just takes the “real” shot. Everything not captured “as is,” is artifice.

I started posting on IG to advertise a handstand workshop. It’s still weird for me to mess around and post images of myself all the time. It’s basically an art project, following some character who’s always with me: I wonder why his hands are always twitchy, why he’s always chewing gum, why he doesn’t just get a haircut since it’s not that big a deal to just make an appointment and DO IT already.

I think of the sorts of images and situations that I would never post publicly. I also think about things that maybe I shouldn’t have posted.

One of the weirder things about Zoom is seeing yourself on the call, with everyone else. You’ve got your own character to follow and direct. That’s your “avatar,” right? Like from hinduism, your soul or whatever released into another form and manifested online. How many people even knew that word or where it came from, 20 years ago?

So, there’s been a loss of physical contact and closeness, that’s true. There’s also been a shedding of physical obstacles and limitations. I want to see you at a time that works for me, I want you to see me at my best. Connecting with people physically is powerful. And sometimes it’s so much trouble.

Now it’s normal for us to present these fragments of ourselves online, streaming or recorded. There’s something awesome about that, and something missing. It’s so much better than nothing, no contact, but at the same time it can’t be everything.



Feature drawing by the author.


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