As I stared out of the window of the aeroplane and looked at the sunlight bouncing off the wing, I reached for my phone and took a snap. That’s going to be great for Instagram later, I thought.
Taking pictures has and always will be part of the holiday experience, so I was shocked and saddened to find that according to a recent study, 73% of people hate seeing their friends’ holiday pictures on social media. Is it jealously or something else that drives this kind of bitterness? Who are these people? Certainly not anyone that I would call a friend.
Because there’s nothing I love more than taking a picture of my bronzed legs by the pool, capturing a beautiful sunset, or showing off my newest gold bikini as the sun shines down and casts me in the most flattering light. And I’m genuinely concerned for the people who say they hate seeing it.
Holidays are a wonderful, magical time where you can take a break from this dumpster fire of a world. You’ve bought a new swimsuit, you’ve caught the sun, you look and feel your absolute best. I want to cherish this small moment of happiness and capture it for prosperity. I also want to share it with my loved ones and I want my friends to share their moments of bliss too.
When I see other people having a good time, whether it’s in real life or on social media my reaction isn’t hatred – it’s happiness. Good for them! If they can find a way to enjoy themselves that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others than more power to them.
Recently, a friend of mine posted a picture of himself emerging from the clear waters of Mykonos, his ripped six-pack glistening in the sunshine as if he’d just stepped out of a Bond film. It wasn’t vanity I saw, but a person who had worked hard to attain the kind of body that he wanted. I was pleased he shared that with me (and his 5,000 followers) – and I’m shocked and a little sad that this reaction isn’t more widely felt.
People complain a lot about social media, saying that looking at the glam pictures of others can make you depressed, but I don’t see it. Maybe it’s because the work I do as a digital editor means that I can see it for what it is – a way to share your best content, whether you’re a big brand, magazine or a human being. You’re showing off the very best parts of yourself and connecting with your followers. And in many cases, that means your friends.
When I recently travelled alone in Thailand for a month, Instagram was a way of me connecting with my friends back home and making me feel less alone. I shared the same old clichéd shots – the sunsets, the hot dog legs, the plates of food, the cocktails, and yes, lots of selfies – but I was also able to share the times when I was feeling a little lonely, when I was freaking out at the idea of being on the other side of the world without anyone to speak to.
There’s a personal connection you get from seeing someone’s face so I didn’t think twice about posting a selfie; it made me feel less alone and I also think it made my friends feel a little closer to me. A picture of a sunset can be lovely, but you can get those from a Google image search – it’s the personal touch that I think really makes you connect with people. I may have been making a pouty duck face, but my friends and followers could see there was a real human being behind that – one with complex emotions who felt vulnerable as well as happy that she was on a month-long holiday.
I didn’t get any negative reaction from those pictures – at least, not openly. Instead, I got lots of supportive messages from close friends and acquaintances who’d had similar experiences to me. It made me braver and more able to face the challenge of being away in a foreign country – but it also helped my friendships develop and grow closer, even though I was six time zones away. These are all vastly positive things – and they were born out of the humble selfie. Frankly, anyone whose reaction to me appearing happy is negative is not someone I want anywhere near my life, and I’ll gleefully defriend them.
So to the almost three quarters of people who hate seeing their friends have a nice time, I want to ask what kind of person do you think that makes you? Where does this bitterness come from? Why can’t you be happy for someone else?
And if you truly can’t abide seeing other people’s joy, why don’t you know where the ‘unfollow’ button is?
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