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Burning Up

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I came across this site today, and am oddly furious about it. The premise is that it asks people to consider what they would take from their house if it was on fire. And then said people are to elegantly photograph their choices. That’s my description. Here’s the one from the site:

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.

Not to be too schoolmarmish about this, but I’ve known people who have actually had their houses burn down. I’ve been with them as they’ve scoured through the remnants of their belongings and witnessed the heartbreaking scene as they realize some of their most dear possessions are gone. I’ve also witnessed the total relief on their faces as they realize how close they came to truly awful physical danger. And I’ve seen how hard it to reconcile those two disparate and fueding feelings: devestation and almost spiritual relief.

I’m quite sure they didn’t regret grabbing the coconut they broke open with their head. Or their favorite denim shirt. In the end, as sad as they were to lose their wedding photos and family antiques, they also realized that they had kept only things that mattered. Their freaking lives.

There is something so privileged about this site’s directive to quantify and describe one’s life in images of stuff.

I know, I’m not getting it and I’m being a total wet blanket.

But at a time when we seem to be hearing everyday about people losing their lives to horrific tornados, earthquakes, and other dastardly disasters, it’s hard for me to feel like this site is much more than permission for some hipsters to show off all of their most cool stuff in pretty photos.


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