Friday 23 March 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Real life is lost in instant nostalgia for idealised past

Whatever became of just living our life rather than relentlessly documenting and publicising it

We're spending too much time documenting our lives online rather than just living our lives
We're spending too much time documenting our lives online rather than just living our lives

Eilis O'Hanlon

Flipogram. That was a new word to me. Apparently it's when you make a slide show of the photographs on your smartphone which then flip over in sequence like the pages of a book. Hence the name. Add some music, graphics, titles, end credits, and, hey presto, you have a mini-movie of your life. Post it on Facebook and wait for the likes. Typical teenage narcissism.

Only these days it isn't just teenagers doing it. It's girls still in national school, marking the new year with flipograms of the year gone by. We're talking fifth class, fourth class, younger. Harmless enough fun in its own way, but some of these girls -- and it generally is a female thing -- take the business of documenting the last 12 months of their lives much more seriously than any child ought to be taking, well, anything.

It's the messages that are added to these slideshows which are most disquieting. Time and again, the girls would say it had been "an up and down year" and they wanted to "thank all the people who made it special" and who'd "been there" for them. It's not only New Year, a sentimental date at the best of times, which brings out these hackneyed catchphrases, but every conceivable occasion from birthdays to summer holidays. School yearbooks in particular have become bibles of mawkishness, with memories pinned on every page like dead butterflies.

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