Fashion notes: Don’t turn into a social-media monster
I was recently on holiday in Bali with my husband, where I couldn’t help notice something that really irked me – an unfortunate technology takeover that I had been accustomed to experiencing while at home, but was dismayed to see while on holiday, where I was hoping for a digital detox.
We began our holiday at a beautiful jungle retreat in Ubud, complete with morning yoga sessions and locally farmed pomegranate salads. An infinity pool overlooking endless greenery and a heavenly spa completed the serene setting. The second half of our Bali trip was spent at Nusa Dua. The upbeat, family-minded beach resort was a nice change from the soothing calm of the jungle, except for one very annoying thing – the endless number of smartphones.
It started with the selfies. While lounging by the pool, if I glanced up for a moment, I was sure to spot at least one monstrous selfie stick jutting into the air, as a throng of eager holidaymakers all crammed their faces into the picture. Then I realised I was one of few hotel guests with a book in hand at the beach. Others brought their tablets and phones along with them, constantly scrolling, tapping or typing on them. Some, I noticed, were even browsing online shopping sites, rather than strolling through traditional markets around Bali. What a shame.
It isn't just a holiday phenomenon. Attend just about any fashion party or new product launch in the UAE, and you will find a gaggle of girls lining up for photo ops – of themselves. Often, it’s all in good fun – a night out with the girls calls for a selfie or two. But it’s easy to get sucked in. Before posting an image, some women take time to tag each brand featured in their outfit, along with a host of hashtags so that their posts will become more popular and will potentially get posted by one of the countless street-style accounts.
While Instagram began as a simple photo sharing app, today, our feeds are cluttered with sponsored advertisements, with photos ranked according to popularity predictions, giving way to the creation of the “Instablogger”. Then there’s Snapchat. What began as a somewhat harmless app to share sly photographs has now evolved into something else entirely. It’s now almost normal for a person to be talking to themselves – well, their phones – in public, as they share things with their followers.
Fashion is a mode of self-expression. It’s about buying clothes that you like and want to wear. You seek out garments that will flatter your body type, and look for prints and colours that complement your personality. What’s unfortunate about the advent of the social media celebrity in fashion is that you’re encouraged, almost pressured, to incorporate somebody else’s fashion preferences into your own wardrobe.
Social media draws you in slowly and deceptively, until you risk becoming a mindless drone, giving undeserved attention to strangers and self-made social-media celebrities who simply have a knack for pairing together pieces of clothing with a stylish flair, which isn’t all that rare. Fashion should be fun and personal – we shouldn’t strive to be constantly glued to our phones while dressed exactly like the latest street-style post on social media. So think twice before you take out your phone to work your angles, pout your lips or look up other people. And don’t think that, as a mere observer, you’re any less guilty of the addiction. A few years ago, stalking to such extents would have been considered downright creepy – just because you’re doing it digitally, doesn’t make it any less so.