Walden; Or, Instagram Selfies in the Woods

It may shock you to learn that before Walden was an Instagram filter, it was the title of a book written in 1845 by Henry David Thoreau, based on his year of self-sufficient, cabin-bound living alongside the Concord pond of the same name. But where Thoreau once pondered the condition of man, man (and woman) now ponders the optimal selfie angle. In an attempt to bridge the two centuries and disparate endeavors, we posed philosophical questions from the classic tome to Walden-based Instagramers.

Walden Selfies

Photograph by Chandra Isenberg via @CHANDRAISENBERG / Instagram

Tom Moore
Photograph by Chandra Isenberg, 30, Belmont

Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” Why did you?

We were really just looking to get away from our residential neighborhood. I have a four-year-old, and we wanted to get out with him. My husband and I were just being kind of goofy. We thought, how crazy to be taking a picture with Thoreau and an iPhone at Walden Pond. It’s kind of ironic.

Walden Selfies

Photograph via @Karolinamaria / Instagram

Karoline Barwinski, 32

What do we want most to dwell near to?

A lot of things. Love.

Walden Selfies

Photograph via @MYRTHESMITS / Instagram

Myrthe Smits, 21
Amsterdam, Netherlands

What do we want most to dwell near to?

I think I want to live close to people, because if I say nature, it isn’t true. I live in Amsterdam, which is crowded. I can sit on my balcony and watch people all day.

Walden Selfies

Photograph via @rockinrobyns824 / Instagram

Robyn Selwitz, 24

Why do you take up a handful of dirt?

Because that is all you can pick up. You can only do your share, but if everybody picks up a handful of dirt, you’ll be able to pick up [pauses, laughs]…a whole mound of dirt.

Walden Selfies

Photograph via @kassie_eberle / Instragram

Kassie Eberle, 28

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises?

Oh my God. God, what did the other person say?… Because we need to live for this day, and we don’t know how long we’ll be here.

Walden Selfies

Photograph via @finkeldemayo / Instagram

Hannah Finkel, 18

What is the pill which will keep us well, serene, contented?

Why is he considered such a deep thinker? Do [these questions] actually mean something, or are they just supposed to sound super deep?