All eyes on me: Holiday divas on social media

Showing off your holidays on social media.

“Look at me, I can afford luxury!” Or that’s the widespread attitude on social media, especially during the summer holidays. Because summer is the holiday season, right?

But who doesn’t take summer holidays? Well, there are of course those whose work nature doesn’t allow them to (usually people working in the hospitality industries). Or people who cannot meet the expenses. Some can only afford a tiny bit and they will usually choose a modest way to spend their free time. And then there’s the majority which will most likely resort to endless boasting about their luxurious breaks on Facebook and the likes. That is holiday narcissism for you.

True, the social media epidemic could be responsible for this kind of behaviour. It’s the perfect tool for showing off and comparing yourself to others. While some might choose a cheap weekend break or a road trip, there will be those uploading photos from expensive resorts, sipping extravagant cocktails, their dinners resembling those of celebrated gourmands.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask. These are well-deserved holidays, after all, some of these people have been working 24/7 the whole year (OK, an exaggeration maybe). The thing is, it’s not just about holidays but also about everyday activities: I know people who will post a selfie every time they visit a hotel bar or have breakfast at a bistro reading their book (the latter often being an excuse for the selfie itself). But don’t they have the right to spend their money as they wish?

Showing off your holidays on social media.

I guess they do. But how proper is it to display their pretentious lifestyle on Facebook or any other social media? It depends on the social context. And in the case of my country, the financial crisis-stricken Greece, where the minimum wage is under 586 euros per month, the unemployment rate is roughly at 20% and bearing in mind tragedies involving the drowning of refugees every now and then or the recent wildfires that caused the death of nearly a hundred citizens, well, in this case, the social context is plain wrong.

“So what are we to do? Waste our summer in mourning?” a friend recently asked me. Yes, we can definitely mourn (albeit silently). But we can also be humble and modest and try to promote a creative/productive lifestyle instead of being provocative on the social media platforms.

That is true for the nouveau riche kind, the pretentious elitist, the working-class employee who finally gets a chance to spend their hard-earned salary,  the digital marketing geek who uploads photos programming on his laptop on a hammock overlooking the ocean or the booklover who takes selfies reading in expensive beach houses. With this democratisation of luxury, one wonders whether luxury is still the appropriate term to use.

Poor or rich, showing off your expensive lifestyle is pathetic, even if it lies within the temporary state of holidays. And not just that: I think it is downright offensive to those who are in need.

The Social Media Network with the long name (Dialectics, no. 5)


This time, in our hypothetical situation, it’s Tom and Emma, longtime friends in their late-30s, who have met up for their lunch break on a weekday. The café is bustling with people on this cold winter day, people who rush into its warm cosiness for a hot drink, wearing their colourful scarves and heavy jackets. Emma, who’s got a cold, keeps blowing her nose. Tom, more reserved, who used to have a crush on Emma some time ago, is just happy to be with her at this moment and willing to try her new ideas…


Emma: You should create an account on SuperUltraMePhotoCosmeticEnhancementAlternative, the brand new social network everyone’s talking about. Mark and Alex from work have already signed up. My boss too.
Tom: Don’t be stupid. You know I’m having a hard time already trying to keep up with my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn accounts. Why on earth would I sign up for a new one, which I can’t even remember how to pronounce properly?
Emma: This one’s different. You upload a photo and it automatically beautifies it, no need for filters or anything. You just input a list of your friends — the ones you find most attractive — and the app makes sure to analyse their face and body shots and make you look even better compared to them. You remember Samantha from the PR department, right? Well, check out this picture of me… Who’s hotter now me or her?
Tom: Oh my God Emma, this doesn’t even look like you.
Emma: What do you mean? It’s me, look this is my blue dress, the one you like!
Tom: But you’ve got blue eyes here!
Emma: Are you retarded or what? Of course they’re blue in the photo, Samantha’s got blue eyes, that’s what makes her so sexy among the staff.
Tom: But in this photo you’re Caucasian!
Emma: So?
Tom: Well I guess this is your dress indeed.
Emma: Yeah, see?
Tom: OK. Well, what if Samantha sees your new photo and decides to use it as input to improve her existing photos? Like, haven’t you thought about it?
Emma: Oh Tom! Here’s the good part. Once you’ve suggested a person you want to out-beauty (that’s the term), that person can’t pick you as a model to out-beauty you. It’s a first-come first-served scenario. You get penalised and then you get your first sticker.
Tom: A sticker?
Emma: Yes a sticker with your photo saying “Bitch”. This is sticker no. 1, as a warning, and if you violate the rules and try to out-beauty someone else who has already out-beautied you then you get sticker no. 2: “Slut”.
Tom: I see, and is there a third sticker or does it go on like that forever until the system runs out of profanity?
Emma: No, you get the third and final sticker. “Queen bitch!” Which is a huge accomplishment in itself! Anyway, are you going to sign up or what?

About fun, social media photos (Dialectics, no. 1)


A cafe in a metropolitan European capital. It’s the end of July and two co-workers from a multinational corporation are having their lunch break. The sky is grey and it’s been raining for a while now. Co-worker B is taking his summer vacation the following week. Co-worker A hasn’t planned any summer holidays but usually goes skiing in the winter. He has been described as a workaholic by his friends and he is the one to talk first.


A:   So I hear you’re off to to the Mediterranean soon.
B:   Yes, to the Greek islands.
A:   Tim’s there now. He’s been posting sunbathing photos every few seconds on Facebook. Say, what do you think of the whole situation? You know, all these people showing off, how they’re having fun and stuff.
B:   Well, I think it’s OK.
A:   I just don’t get it, I mean why try so hard to convince us they’re having fun?
B:   Uhm… Because they are? I mean I myself upload photos from my holidays. And I will certainly do that next week.
A:   It has nothing to do with holidays. It’s about people taking photos at the pub. At restaurants. Having fancy dinners and drinking expensive cocktails. Having fun…
B:   You have to admit they’re inspirational. You know, when I’m at work l feel relaxed looking at this kind of photos.
A:   Relaxed or lazy?
B:   Now you’re pushing it.
A:   Well, think about it. Instead of taking fun photos, why don’t we post photos of ourselves at work, working on our projects at 7 pm? Working overtime even? Or you know, us parents running errands. Our wives doing the dishes.
B:   Cause that’s depressing?
A:   I mean don’t you think these real life kinds of photos could be the true motivation to be more productive? You say fun photos are inspirational, but I’m not quite convinced that proving that having fun could have creative gains. What do these posts teach us? What is the aim? To become lazy hippies?
B:   Now, that’s kind of racist. I really think you ought to take some time off work.
A:   And I think our lunch break is over.
B:   Already?
A:   Back to work. And no surfing on social media until 5!
B:   Yes, sir!