I recently returned from a lovely holiday to Iceland.
Rejuvenated by frolicking around the fjords and actually getting enough sleep for a week, I happily bounced into the office on Monday morning, cheeks pinkened and eyes brightened, expecting to be welcomed back with loving enthusiasm — maybe even a free coffee. Instead I was met with what many would describe as a torrent of abuse. ‘Why are you here? You just posted a picture of a waterfall on Instagram,’ said one co-worker. ‘Are you pretending to be on holiday still?’ asked another. ‘Your endless lies make me feel sick,’ said my desk-mate, chortling. Friends, I had committed a cardinal sin: the fake Insta vacation extension.
This is a common enough occurrence. You’ve likely seen it without even realising. It boils down to the act of pretending you’re still on holiday for your social media followers, prompting the envy of your peers over your seemingly three-week-long trip to Mexico. In reality, you’ve been crammed on the Central line, sorting laundry and fighting over the last Pret sandwich since you got home 15 days ago. The lie can take various forms. Perhaps it’s the ‘photo dump’, a 10-slide long gallery of holiday highlights ranging from candid bikini photos to hiking at dawn wholesomeness. It could be a wistful #takemeback snap — of which there are close to 15 million on Instagram (can we just retire that hashtag once and for all, please?). Or, in my case, it could be a straight-up lie, a falsehood created to ease myself back into the reality of normal life, retaining the glossy allure of a far-flung holiday for my digital self only.
Is it really so bad? Celebrities do it all the time, if just for privacy reasons: reportedly, the Kardashians operate on a ‘week behind’ schedule at all times so that no follower knows their current whereabouts. Rochelle Humes recently admitted to being guilty of the post-holiday Insta snap, saying ‘sitting there and posting them seemed like a distraction from being there in the moment and enjoying my holiday,’ on her recent Showing Up podcast appearance. Other influencers do it to make the most of their content: what’s the point in an all-inclusive trip to Dubai if you can’t milk at least 14 weeks of posts out of it?
I’ll admit both content schedules and privacy aren’t major concerns of mine despite being this magazine’s digital editor, given I have only 800 followers and mainly post pictures of my cat, Gregory. I just thought I had too many nice pictures of my holiday not to share. It would be doing a disservice to my loyal 800.
There is, of course, the argument that we shouldn’t really be going on holiday for the Instagram content at all. Holidays are meant to be for resting, recharging. Spending time with loved ones, taking a well-deserved break, escaping the burdens our modern way of life press upon us. I get it. I really do. But don’t pretend that if you’re ever staring at a hammock swinging over the Indian ocean, cocktail umbrella perched atop a Piña Colada and a photogenic shoal of fish swimming beneath your feet, you won’t be reaching for your phone to share with the world. That’s just one lie too many.