Hey everyone: look at me!
Social media brought the monster out in Fiona Barber, but she’s too busy revelling in shameless self promotion to care.
Facebook made me do it. A few years ago when friends posted their kids’ NCEA results, up went my young Princess’ achievements too. Worse than that, I upped the ante, boasting an “Excellence”.
Shameless, pathetic behaviour and straight after I’d done it, I felt ashamed. It was not something I’d have volunteered to friends, so why did I suddenly think it was OK to post it? Where had it come from?
It was hatched in a place that sometimes feels more bizarre than North Korea, the Westboro Baptist Church and Trump Towers combined. It’s a vast, lawless land where the last vestiges of modesty, humility and self-censoring have been abandoned – a bit like truth and river protections in 2017 New Zealand.
Don’t get me wrong, social media has many, many pluses. Where else in the world can you get a deserved pat on the back for cleaning the oven? Where else can you mine such a rich seam of parody starring that great orange-crested booby perched in the White House? And who hasn’t been saved by Facebook’s birthday reminders?
But the scrupulously curated worlds and brazen self-congratulation are enough to make you reach for the anti-nausea meds. And that’s just posts from the middle-aged. (I do wonder if the freedom to shed the politeness and brag is like heroin coursing through we Boomers’ and X-ers’ veins.)
Instead of remaining in my default status of old curmudgeon, however, I’ve decided to take pleasure in the vacuous, self-aggrandising delights available on social media. My cup runneth over.
I think my faves are the selfies. Despite the words “Fabulous view of the beach”, does that man with abs almost filling the frame really want us to look at the wafer-thin slice of rippling azure ocean behind him? Methinks not. A more truthful caption might read: “Me enjoying my ripples and by crikey, so should you.” OK, I made that up, but you know what I mean.
A few years ago the naughty Princess sneakily logged into my Facebook account and sent a friend request to a well-known socialite who accepted, despite not knowing me from a bar of soap. Since I turned over my new pleasure-fromSM (that’s social media, not something else) leaf, I look forward to their posts. They are a lesson in self-belief, self-esteem and self-self. (A bonus: if I’m really struggling to sleep, they have a terrific soporific effect.)
My friend The Bra Whisperer says the meek do not inherit the Earth. It is the shameless. She’s right, of course, but life is short. You have to take joy where you find it.