I am mixing work with family fun by the beach, but it seems to me that everyone else is so preoccupied with getting that Facebook profile selfie right that they can’t actually enjoy themselves.
I look at my daughter, who is 5 years old, and she is having a whale of a time splashing in the pool, flicking sand over her legs or jumping over what she describes as “massive” waves, but are, in reality, the lightly frothing ripples of a calm and benevolent Andaman sea. I am 41 years old and happy doing pretty much the same as her.
Many a person between our ages and good few older than me is walking around, forever trying to capture the "look" in front of green waters, blue sky and orange-streaked outcrops of rock in an unnaturally-natural-selfie to communicate to everyone back home quite how much they are enjoying themselves whilst not communicating with anyone back home.
Don’t get me wrong, anyone who uses social media is, to a lesser or greater extent vying for other people's attention. I want people to be interested in me and in what I have to say. Maybe its because I don't “do” Facebook anymore (at least as an individual), but it seems kind of strange to me to constantly try to capture some idyllic image of ourselves within our lives and thrust it upon the rest of our worlds.
It turns out I am as needy as those selfie-obsessed people I secretly deride.
Idling by the beach front yesterday I sent a picture of an amusingly shaped rock formation to a friend, whose response was; "yes Tom, we KNOW you are in Thailand". It wasn't my intention to send a hey-look-at-me message. I saw this thing and thought of this person so I sent the message. Does this mean my subconscious is as needy as those selfie-obsessed people I secretly deride?
As I write this I am watching (not in a creepy way) a couple on the beach taking it in turns to take pictures of each other with hair and clothes billowing. They have been doing this for half an hour. Before that I saw an increasingly exasperated mother take a hundred smartphone snaps of her daughter posing on the edge of a pool against the stunning backdrop of the ocean. Who does that?
I am as vain (maybe more so in truth) as your average human but I can see that the ocean is stunning and all the more so because it is not an accessory to me. Two days ago I took a kayak out for a while. The limestone crags that rise from the water have been carved into grotesque cathedral-like overhangs, littered with the most ominous of stalactites. Birds with electric blue rumps darted between the thick foliage that clings to the cliffs at impossible angles and Pacific Reef Egrets stood watchfully and skilfully on the sharp rocks. Nearer the beach, monkeys skitted nervously across the rocks; encroaching on a world that is now human, but once was theirs. I drifted for a while, the salt water lapping at my gaudy bobbing kayak, and I looked around in complete awe at this spectacle of nature; insignificant and humble.
And then, for some reason, I video-ed myself paddling. Why? Up until that point I was immersed in what I was doing. I didn't need others to know about it to make it true. Or perhaps my weak subconscious does need this.
So, as I climb down off my high horse, at least long enough to post perhaps the ultimate selfie; these largely inconsequential thoughts, I realise that my incomprehension and annoyance at other people's smartphone posturing is probably a reflection of that which I dislike most about myself.