Sunday, October 31, 2021

I WAS privy to a conversation where a female friend of mine was telling my other half about various posts that she had viewed on some other woman’s Instagram account.

From the chat, I gathered that the lady in question doing all the posting, and she’s quite prolific by the sound of things, basically puts pictures of practically every facet of her home up to be viewed.

I learned that she is clearly not short of a bob and has a rather large house which she is only too happy to share pics of with her followers. The thing that got me was the frequency of the posting and given that the account was public, presumably a desire to let everyone see her fabulous world.

Now I’m not going to slag the woman. She’s not alone. You can say it is the modern-day equivalent of sharing your holiday photos with a friend, but I think it’s signaling an epidemic of a dangerous ‘Look at Me’ culture. Is it insecurity that drives someone to show off in this manner?

Having to use social media myself, I’m aware that lots of us need to promote services, products, artistic endeavours and such, but the shameless flaunting of wealth, possessions and status that is now rife online is rather sad.

Do you really need to put up a photo of your newly purchased American style fridge or car?  What are you hoping to achieve? Is it to impress your friends who also have one and show that you’re as good as them? Could it be that the old fashioned keeping up with the Jones’s philosophy is alive and well and it’s just moved to social media?

Years ago, it might be if Harry next door bought a new car, Fred would have to do likewise and if the Flynns went on holiday to Majorca, the Butlers would have to plan a sun vacation too, not to be seen to be losing out.

Kids are getting this in the neck and if most of the class has a smart phone, you can bet your Wi fi that little Julie will be plaguing her parents for one too. Is anyone even asking the question why a ten-year-old would actually need an iPhone in the first place?

The need to fit in seems to dominate so many of our lives that we feel perhaps if we don’t have what everyone else around us has, we’re inadequate and missing out on life.

A friend gave me one of those supermarket brochures the other day advertising a 50-inch TV which was reduced in price. I thanked him for the heads up. He was only being helpful after all, but I’m perfectly happy with my smaller model which suits our small living room. Thankfully I’m at that stage in my life where I can’t be bothered trying to keep up with anyone.  You see the trouble in a world of copycats is that you could unwittingly end up copying the wrong cat. Oh, the pressure!  That’s why it’s easier not to bother at all.

I’m watching my young teenage nieces and nephews and I just want them to understand that we were made to stand out, not fit in. There’s something very liberating and gratifying about not feeling that pull to be part of the crowd.

I understand that no one wants to be the odd one out, but I wish they knew and understood that being yourself is the best way to be and that there’s beauty in the imperfect too.

If someone wants to put a pic of themselves in their knickers on Instagram, go for it if that is what brings you joy.

So, I take it you are mightily proud of your sun-tanned pins and would like me to comment accordingly?  “Good girl Janice! Those toenails look sensational! Thanks for sharing!” Or “Fair play Donna, you really know how to rock that thong!” It’s almost laughable.

I’m thinking what the equivalent scenario would have been when I was growing up.  Perhaps it might have been if some girl in the local Mercy Convent school was taking Polaroids of herself and handing them out to people she barely knew or had no connection to whatsoever!  She would have had a stern talking to by the nuns, that’s for sure.

Here we are though in 2021 and between Tic Toc and Instagram, there’s a multitude of willing participants in this bizarre world of exhibitionism, just waiting to parade pretty much anything you’d care to mention, and we see it as normal.

My better half tells me that my analogy is slightly off as the whole point is that you’re not really engaging one on one when you are hiding behind a screen.

Okay so here’s a tweak to my version. What if the girl or boy next door put a life-size cardboard cutout of themselves outside the local shop and left a stack of those pictures in a little holder on it with a sign saying, ‘Take one for free’. That would be shocking, but that’s what they are doing online, and we see it as ‘just the way things are today’.

Now you might well believe I’m coming down a bit hard on these poor creatures but again I go back to when I grew up. There’s no way I would have gotten away with going on about what I have and blowing about my new football boots or such without getting a swift kick in the arse from my peers. I would have been told to “cop on”.

There’s a dearth of ‘cop on’ in the world today and what’s worse is that it’s not just the young and immature who are engaging in this behaviour but grown adults, adult enough to own big houses and have kids of their own.

The really worrying thing is that their children are growing up watching their parents doing all this stuff so what messages are they getting?

I dread to think of the self-esteem issues coming down the track for the next generation. If you’re thinking of careers for your kids steer them down the road of psychology or analysis. Why? Because I am convinced that we’re going to need lots of professionals with couches in the future to sort out the mess we’ve so willingly made and engaged with in our so called modern and sophisticated world.

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