The world is getting bizarre, but so slowly that no one more than raises an eyebrow, before continuing with their day.
A millionaire is elected President, it snows in Rome, and busy-looking people talk to themselves on the street, with only tiny earplugs to tip you off to their handsfree calls.
You see someone randomly striking a pose in the middle of traffic, and you don’t bat an eye.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a young couple posing, jumping, dancing, and pulling faces for their phones and selfie sticks. (I hope the phones and selfie sticks were amused.)
It apparently took some time for them to get exactly what they wanted for their carefully crafted insta feed, because they were at it for at least 20 minutes. It looked ridiculous, but the surrounding world and the people watching meant nothing to these two. As long as they looked good on social media, they didn’t mind looking silly in real life.
To top it off, they were standing on ice. Now that is a big trend here, walking on the thin ice of the Baltic sea in sunny spring weather, right next to where boats have broken the ice. Locals love doing it and it attracts tourists, too. They walk to the islands that you would have to pay a ferry ride to in the summer. Never mind that there was a sign warning people about the ice not being safe. They just saw other people there, and thought they might go, too. I even spotted two couples with prams, and it made me feel very anxious just watching them.
The instagram couple was so absorbed in their phones that someone could have fallen into the ice right next to them, and they would have kept on posing for the camera. To not sound so cynical, I would like to say that at least they were having fun, but it looked like they were getting a bit frustrated.
They remind me of a girl I used to work with, we did a couple of trips together, many years ago. This was before selfies became a standard. She was always asking me to take a picture of her posing (she already had the duck face lip thing going, must’ve been something of a pioneer) and she was never, ever happy with the result.
We would take dozens and dozens of photos, over and over again, and each time she would pull a spontaneous look into her pout and suck in her tummy. I couldn’t take photos, she told me. Didn’t I know that you were never supposed to frame a portrait like this, didn’t I know the rules of photography?
The rules of photography! I thought. She is crazy. There are no rules to art!
(Yes, I’m now aware of the rule of thirds and so on, but I never use them. My photos are art – because I say so! – and I only use my eyes. I’m not saying it’s good art, but it’s art nonetheless. Even a lousy artist is an artist. Bizarre how even a blank canvas can be a piece of art if you say so.)
Bizarre world, where duck-faced pouts are deemed attractive.
Another bizarre thing is how people look to blogs for advice. But the blogger behind the advice could be anyone, a self-proclaimed authority on a subject that they actually have no real experience or knowledge of. I received an interesting comment on one of my posts a while ago. Someone told me that they had recently met several travel bloggers blogging about destinations they had never actually been to.
So much for the idea of becoming a freelancer and leaving the rat race of a 9-to-5 job: you still have to grab at every opportunity to make a buck, I guess.
I’ve seen several posts where bloggers dish out advice on traveling with infants or getting cheap air fares, and with my humble professional background in aviation I know that the advice is either bad or already really old news.
I’ve also seen blogging tips where the advice goes against good SEO practices, indicating that the blogger is just making things up. Whenever I see a post that starts with “My five best tips to…” I scroll down in my feed as fast as I can go.
I hope (young) people realize that to get the real travel tips they need, they should visit the websites of the airport and the airline. They are the best sources, not travel bloggers.
(Not that it matters the tiniest bit what I think, but my advice on traveling pregnant: don’t take the unnecessary risk unless you really have to. Traveling is stressful. My advice on traveling with an infant: it’s hard work, don’t take it out on the flight attendant! Says the self-proclaimed authority behind this blog. Do you take my word for it?)
Does anyone out there still remember the world before social media? Not everyone even wanted to travel back then. And it was okay to like other things, instead. And not everyone wanted to take photos. Or become a celebrity.
It’s a bizarre world where reality TV shows about people going about their jobs, cooking food, or looking after their children are entertainment. It’s bizarre that voting people off a show is entertainment, like back in the days of Ancient Rome where people were entertained with circus games. Thumbs up or thumbs down.
Now what was my point again? I probably didn’t have one. Maybe the world has always been bizarre. We are only some 30-40 generations away from Ancient Rome, after all. Put 40 of your grandfathers or grandmothers in an imaginary line and it’s not even a very long one.
What would they have thought of our instagram feeds, I wonder… I think they would have given a thumbs up. They were probably just like us.