It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun, having reached its highest point for the day, had started its journey down. But it still felt awfully hot. And the water was so clear, so fresh, so perfect. Every lucky soul there was enjoying the breeze, a swim, maybe even a couple of cold drinks. One might have believed it was paradise on Earth. And that it might have been a sin not to take a picture, or two, of the scenic afternoon.
A picture here of a couple in love. A picture there of friends having fun. A self “portrait” of a girl on vacation. And a group photo of self loving bikini chicas and muscly chicos. Each looking so proud. Proud of themselves perhaps? Simply for existing… It’s the new thing. It’s come to this. And then Instagram approval. Peer approval. But what’s so different between a stranger on social media and a stranger here, now? A stranger looking at you, sharing this moment with you, live. Don’t you need their approval too?
You asked a man to move out of your frame. He did. Time passed. Shots were taken. So many positions. Such a cute concept. You asked another man to swim away to clear your shot. He also did. More shots were taken. More time passed. Yes you looked beautiful. And your friend did too. Everyone will agree online. So many “likes”. It’s exciting. And then you asked a woman to move away. She refused. You hit a wall. How can anyone be so unfair, you thought. It’s only a couple of innocent pictures, right? Why wait for her to go about her day and eventually leave when you can voice your dissatisfaction? What’s so important in her life that she can’t stop enjoying her day in paradise for one more shot of your precious behind, and your flawless hair?
You can’t let it go. You want your 20th perfect shot. So there’s an argument. She wants to enjoy her swim peacefully. You want her out of there. She is starting to make a point so you raise your voice and belittle her. You’re not condescending, right? Otherwise your friends wouldn’t agree with you… right? It catches everyone’s attention. Strangers are staring. Maybe you think they’re looking at your beautiful skin? Or maybe you assume they are agreeing with you? This situation is such nonsense, right?
But the strangers were, unfortunately, judging you. And the staff was fed up with the drama. It didn’t matter what you looked like, how many friends you had, or how perfect your pictures would be. You did not have those strangers’ approval. You certainly did not have mine either. But I wasn’t baffled by your rudeness, or your perseverance, or even by your self-absorbance. I was, rather, intrigued by your indifference of your immediate surroundings. You could not care less for our disapproval. But isn’t that what you seek online, approval? To feel pretty? To feel loved? Why are social media strangers so much better than real life strangers? Maybe I just don’t get it… Maybe I’m even too old to understand now…