C’est Zarbi

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.

67 responses to “C’est Zarbi

  1. Strangely and perhaps bizarrely enough, l was having this exact conversation with a historian only yesterday – and to a certain degree with my partner this morning about the shape of the legal system and society’s moral compass. What an excellent post as well as extremely interesting journey – thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A great post that makes me grateful that I had already lived more than half my life to date before social media existed. I believe there are plenty of people who can see it for what it is and some of the platforms are great, especially in the world of animal rescue 💖 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, travelling is not what it used to be. In Australia the queuing at airports now takes longer than the journey. Last time I was asked to take my boots off and my belt. The boots made the alarm go off as they had hidden steel caps. Then, being slim built, I had to hop to a scanning machine while holding up my pants. However, the scanning had to be done while holding my arms up against the wall, thus letting go of my pants. Border control has gone mad!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was in Portugal at Cabo da Roca our guide told us about a couple who died whilst taking a selfie because they climbed over the roped off area and fell off the cliffs…that’s sad , in more ways than one..great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post Snow! I never thought that the day would come where I would utter the words “ I miss the good old days “. Not all the time of course but the current state of the world leaves me uneasy at moments. Thankfully blogging shows me every day that there are many more good people in the world than the other kind! And that gives me hope for the future!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, yes, yes to the insanity of selfie craziness. What’s so great about sticking your head in the way of something beautiful or interesting? I can’t tell you how many people I see taking photo after photo of themselves here in Hawaii. And the weird thing is, half the time, they’ll be doing this someplace where there’s a fabulous coastline or some striking feature and they’re taking the photo against a background of a patch of overgrown weeds. And let’s not even mention the idiots passing baby dolphins around for a photo and then wondering why it’s dead. Or let’s sit little Timmy on the turtle and take his picture. Aaaaargh. I confess that I’m pleased when someone doing those kinds of thing falls through the ice or plunges off a cliff. That’s what the Darwin Awards (http://www.darwinawards.com/) are for. I’d better go and lie down now. (By the way, are those frigatebirds in the photo? I love seeing those birds.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they are frigatebirds, I loved the look of them too. Plenty of them over there, the photo’s from Curacao (2012). Anyway, Darwin did spring to mind a few times! I can’t believe how ignorant/self-absorbed some people are and they should at the very least be fined for disturbing wild animals. As for your description of those selfie-takers, it’s something I can’t understand either. I even cringe at the word selfie!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a thought-provoking post. Brilliant. The concerns that were addressed are relevant to many societies and countries. It’s alarming the way the world is developing. I’m most concerned of generation/generations to come. How would our children/grandchildren tackle all this, social media, a virtual world?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I HATE these “My five best tips to…” posts too. But it seems there are more of these than real travel blogs by now. I miss ancient Rome too…!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Which is sad!!! It is seems everywhere you look there’s the same content, and communication is limited. I asked for tips and accommodation recommendation to a blogger the other day who went to Japan several times. She answered in a mobile phone texting syntax to my comment with “check Airbnb”… ?!!!!?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow, was she very young? Maybe she doesn’t know how to communicate in sentences?! 😂This just goes to show how so many “travel bloggers” are not genuine travel lovers – if they were, they’d LOVE to have a chat with you about the traffic at Ikebukuro or the fish at the local market that you MUST try when you get there. (I just made that up, never went to a market there! But we did stay in Ikebukuro ☺️) Anyway, it’s a shame…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Isn’t the best? To share… I’ll come back with stories about Japanese markets (my favourite to do in the whole world!!!). When did you go?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharing experiences is what it’s all about!!! Looking forward to reading about the markets! 🙂 We went ages ago, and only to Tokyo (was it 2009..? or something), but next time hopefully we’ll see more. Loved it! Are you going to Tokyo or elsewhere? Enjoy your trip!!


      • We arrive in Tokyo and spend a few days there, then we’re going to Kyoto where we’ll meet with Japanese friends (the lady and I were “pen-pals” and we met a few years ago when they came to France) and then off to Tokyo again. That is the trip of a lifetime. I am so looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, that does sound like an amazing plan! I’ve heard Kyoto is very pretty, would love to go there myself one day. And how fun that you are meeting up with an old penpal!! 🙂 Plus, having a local “guide” means you’ll get so much more out of it. We would have needed one, if juts to decipher the foods!! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Working in a restaurant I often see those clichés of people rather taking a fabulous photo of their plate than actually enjoying eating it… and yes, I was thinking the same thing the other day about travel blogs, I have more and more of those tips on my feed and no interest whatsoever in them! Maybe, that’s why I rebel in my writing and make it so personal there are no tips at all 😀 anyway, thanks for sharing these thoughts! Gives hope, people still noticing things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • True! I feel it really took over our lives in the past decade. For me it started slowly around 2003 with MSN Messenger, then around 2008-2010 with the Facebook madness it really became unavoidable… Now it’s just part of the day-to-day and we often don’t realize anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I keep having lots of trouble because I left FB years ago. Over here, you HAVE to be logged in at all times. If you want to have lunch at a restaurant, the only way you can find out their opening hours, menu or address is on FB because most places now are too lazy to set up a website. And if you’re not logged in, FB will just throw a grey box in front of you, making it impossible to find out any company info. Same with schools, for example. I will be forced to join when the babies go to play school, at the latest. School-parent interaction will be on FB. I don’t like the idea of going through personal things on a commercial service like that, but no one else seems to mind! 😔


          • I understand, I know someone who was off FB as well and when her kid was 2 years old they moved to Germany. She was “forced” to join FB again to be able to find play groups. She told me even when she met people at the park they were telling her to join their group on FB as that’s where they were scheduling the meetups. As for the grey box when you’re not logged in, I can still work around it – I will send you an email explaining how. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  12. So you are talking about those blogs with thousands of followers and very few comments, right? They seem disingenuous somehow. They also lack the feeling of community, imho! But what would I know, perhaps my collected posts are just my ramblings and my blog a virtual diary others like to read. Seriously though, you raised a great point about people believing all they read if it is published on social media. The ramblings of one, become the gospel truth of the next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True! And it’s any blog, really, but the ones you mentioned seem to be the main ones writing posts with “5 tips for the best…” Generally, when you give advice about something you really don’t know more about than the next guy, it’s not a good starting point… 😝 I just saw a couple of posts like this that did get lots of (positive) comments…
      Virtual diary blogs like yours are the best ones ☺️Real and interesting!


  13. The people on the ice reminds me of other stories that I read about people going off the designated path and ruining the landscape or climbing onto people’s roofs just for the perfect shot. That just seems to be so disrespectful. I love to capture a great photo, but not by ruining the view for people in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree with you! A bit unrelated, but you reminded me of people who throw cigarette butts in the sea – I can’t stand it! People are just so self-absorbed. (I must be like that, too, not saying I’m perfect!!) Anyway, as for the ice, it’s an old tradition in Finland to walk on the waters when they freeze. BUT conditions have changed and it’s not always safe (anymore). There is more boat traffic, breaking the ice, for example. And the winters are milder. And people have become reckless, not using common sense. There was a story on the radio a couple of months ago about a boy who’d walked really far out to sea and needed to be rescued by the coast guard. He was right where the big cruise ships go… 😯Thanks for taking the time to comment, enjoyed seeing you here Amy, as always! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I couldn’t understand selfie either, or more like selfies, people blasting the camera shutter away to get that perfect flawless shots for fb or insta feed. Crazy isn’t it? I always got annoyed as I couldn’t see the background of somewhere nice with the big heads poking around. Thanks for sharing…I’m relief there is someone out there who thinks the same. Another thing I couldn’t understand is when the perfect selfie shots are taken, people now are obsessed to upload it immediately and wait for the likes to come in.

    Liked by 1 person

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