‘Optics’ by Jess


Optics: the study of sight and light.

People look at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

Hebrew Proverb

Optics. Apart from its scientific meaning, it has increasingly become a buzz word in politics: the art of looking good, or making a good impression. No matter what the moral or practical implications of a decision, if the optics of that decision made are going to enhance a politician’s public image, then 21st century thinking says ‘go for it’.

As a digital content creator, I quickly learnt the art of optics as it relates to this field. The ignominy of posting a YouTube clip that hasn’t been filtered and adjusted to within an inch of its film, is not something I wish to ever repeat. My Google Play subscriptions to apps that edit and airbrush, are now costing me a good proportion of my food budget. After all, ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ (Kate Moss). This image conscious, impressionistic world order in which we live has claimed another victim.

As for any addict, my addiction to optics has all the benefits of the highs from a fix. Filming in a hurry? A serendipitous opportunity to go to a great location? The light’s good, the scenery breathtaking. Only problem is I didn’t have time to do my make up. Optics to the rescue. Tie in my hair extensions, pick a great hat or pair of sunnies, a lick of expensive lippie and I’ve got the raw ingredients for what’s going to be a great end product. When home, slap on a cine 3 filter, amp up both the shadows and the brightness to smooth the skin texture and make my dark eyes pop, frame with a reflective border and post.

Then comes the ultimate high. Likes come thick and fast. Compliments flow like Co-codamol through my veins. I’ve got more followers on YouTube and Instagram… Optics works its addictive magic once again.

But as with every drug, there are the lows, not to mention the side effects. I’ve lost a subscriber… someone thumbs down my post…. only 4 views of a clip, three of which were mine.

Friends become a means to an end; transporters to different locations, props in stills, networkers who can supply more followers, more likes

And the message I’m supposed to be conveying to my followers? Is it being lost in translation? I’m becoming like marmite. Hated and loved to extremes.

Ok, you may argue. We live in a world obsessed by the visual. It sells. Plain and simple. So why doesn’t the church jump on this bandwagon. After all, we’ve got to be shrewd, using the resources we have, to win eternity for souls blinded by the god of this world. And yes, I agree with this. Optics is a useful resource. And yes, I want to fulfil the Great Commission. I want to invest my gifts and talents for eternal wealth. And to hear the words of my first love, ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.

I suppose the problem is, when optics start putting me on the throne, and not God. When I become obsessive with checking in on my feed. When my phone is the first thing I reach for in the morning, not my bible. When followers become MY followers, and not the Good Shepherd’s followers. Then I have to check myself and get back to basics. Pray, read God’s Word, and see what He has to say about things. Strangely enough, putting God first brings about a much greater blessing as I return to my work in optics as a digital content creator. I’m serving the greatest creative in the business, and it’s win-win working for Him.

Now I’m off to test my new smartphone. The camera is said to be out of this world. I don’t know about that. All I can testify to, is that the eternal benefits of anyone’s work in the kingdom, are better than any quick fix high.

Jessica Nel is a digital content creator, working for the greatest creative in the business. Connect with her via Jess Thinks… on YouTube, and jessicanel7 on Instagram