In the Off Camera Show (timestamp), Brit Marling says today many people take many photos a day as a way to say

I'm here, I'm alive and I'm holding it all.

Is this a way to express someone has everything under control, mentally? Or do native speakers understand it so?


3 Answers 3


Usually, "Holding on" means being mentally in-control, or for dealing with difficult situation.

But, as Marling is using it for photography, it might mean that, through the photos, people tend to capture the moment, and try to grasp (hold) it forever, as now it will be with them forever.
Now they will always be able to hold onto the memory that they were present at the place, very much alive.


In general the metaphors they use are not extremely well thought out, so it is pretty hard to decipher an exact meaning from them. That is mostly due to their conversation being live and unscripted but... As a native speaker, here is my interpretation:

For more context, the section of the video the speakers are discussing how they think so much of a person's action are done in response to a fear of dying. They are then listing how that fear is shown in technology.

Person A: "So much of it is driven towards the idea [...] of a kind of holy grail of immortality. You know we could upload our consciousness to some kind of cube. You know we could freeze the body and then plug it back in. Is there a way for a human being to exist on a mainframe and -"

Person B: "Or even the documenting our life or the proliferation of how many photographs everyone takes a day and what is that? A desire to say I'm here and I'm alive and -"

Person A: "And I'm holding it all. It isn't it just like slipping through my fingers. It's not a passing thing, its -"

Person B: "But it's not meaning [anything]"

In the context instead of "everything under control" (which isn't a bad guess), "holding it all" would mean "living your life." Or at least some attempt at proving to yourself and to others that you are living your life, even if it is unsuccessful.

This meaning is contrasted with what the speakers see as the reality of "it ... slipping through my fingers." This expands the meaning of the first phrase by presenting the two as opposing options: you are either holding your life, or letting it slip through you fingers.

Overall, I think the point the woman is trying to make is that people want to surround themselves with or be close to the proof that they are beings far away from death. The constant pictures people post is the same as them "holding" the evidence that they are indeed people that go on adventures, make plans with friends, etc. and because those plans keep happening (with the proof of more and more photos), they will continue to happen without any obstacles in the future.


I both agree and disagree with the previous answers. I believe she is referring to the fact that she thinks people are taking too many photos and thus living in the past. She says she is holding it all meaning that as life comes at her, she is taking everything in and enjoying life.

By taking pictures, you are attempting to live in the past and that is something she doesn't want to do. Imagine a rope falling through you hands. The rope represents life and holding on is grabbing at the past while the part that is still falling creates a pile on top of your hands. Holding it all represents holding on to the rope as it falls and grabbing each new piece so the rope never slacks. Like the rope never slacks, she never misses anything because she is not holding onto the past.

In this context, it does not really refer to mental health so much as it does to the fact that she is living life in the moment. You never hear people say "I'm so alive" while they are taking pictures; rather, you hear it when they are staring in awe at something amazing and living life as it comes.

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