Sunday 26 February 2017

How the stars of social media make a bad summer worse

Facebook and Instagram convince us that everyone is having a better time - and we go along with it, writes Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

#HOLIDAY: Idyllic beach photos are now a summer staple across social-media platforms
#HOLIDAY: Idyllic beach photos are now a summer staple across social-media platforms

Was it easier to endure a crappy summer before social media came along? Back when we had to check Ceefax for sports results, the rain might be rolling down the windowpane in July, but it all seemed curiously inevitable. We sort of marinaded together in soft drizzle. There was nobody to really rub it in your face that things might be so different.

Even if someone returned from somewhere with an envy-inducing tan, you could console yourself that you'd just have gotten burned anyway. We were pleasantly insulated from people's rip-roaring good times. Showing someone 'holiday snaps' was television shorthand for 'boring the face off your guests'. In The Golden Girls, which is basically the Geneva Convention of sitcoms, it was specifically described as a form of torture.

Now, we are all either boring or being bored by other people's summers. Since the advent of Facebook, sighing at other people's narcissism has become as much part of summer as the All Ireland. A majority of us have accounts, through which we scroll, intermittently feigning interest or jealously. Even worse is when you detect a real tinge of envy. For a split second you buy into the idea that some people's lives consist entirely of matching glasses of Prosecco at Departures, and feel a bit worse about yourself. Then, when you do go on holidays, the whole thing becomes a photoshoot.

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