Co-it-All: Can you not broadcast my beach vacation photos all over Facebook and Instagram? Courtney Shea A weekly series in which our expert in all things everything solves life’s conundrums, big and small. Got a problem that could use a no-nonsense perspective? Tell it to the Co-It-All at firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Co-it-All, I’m not on social media because I think it’s lame and sort of gross. I am going on a trip with a close girlfriend who does not see it my way, and I worry that our entire vacation is going to be chronicled on Facebook and Instagram, etc. for all to see. Is there a polite way to tell her to leave the selfie stick at home? This is a great question, and one I can’t wait to dig into. First though, let’s bow our heads to pay brief respect to the disposable camera. That yellow-cardboard enveloped workhorse that captured our favourite vacation moments then got relegated to the bottom of a sandy/muddy/moldy backpack for way too long before you finally remembered to take it to Black’s or wherever. And then one freezing day in February, you pick up your freshly developed, actual photos and you’re instantly transported back to the time you zip-lined in Costa Rica, or drank beer out of a boot in Berlin, or met that super cute guy at the hostel in Melbourne. If you’re under 25, it’s possible you have no idea what I’m talking about, but trust me—there was something sort of awesome about the delayed gratification, the physical objects, the days when our photos were placed lovingly in our personal albums and not plastered across the Internet. Oh man, do I sound like an old man kvetching about “kids today?” I do, don’t I? Based on your letter, though, it sounds like I’m kvetching to the converted. Beyond “gross and lame” you don’t go very deep into your specific beefs, so I’ll just go ahead and share some of mine… These days it really can seem like a lot of us go on trips—and eat out, and get dressed up and procreate—expressly for the purpose of Instagram bragging. I mean, people don’t tend to post photos of themselves sitting at their computer at six in the morning, with greasy hair, mismatched pajamas and stress wrinkles to rival a Sharpé. Instead we have become curators at the living museum of our own identities. We select photos to emphasize the most envy-worthy moments of our lives, leaving the rest (aka, day-to-day existence) on the cutting room floor. It’s all very obvious, and still there are plenty of studies that show how looking at other people’s social media feeds makes us feel inadequate or less-than. We know it’s a load of crap…and still we feel like crap. On the other hand, many of us (and it sounds like your friend falls into this category), have trouble putting down the smartphone. I would describe myself as an infrequent Instagrammer, still every now and then I’ll be experiencing a wonderful moment—a raging dance party with my girlfriends, playing with my adorable nephew, making a meal that is almost too pretty to eat—and I’ll feel this twitch. Like—oh I should get an amazing photo of this and post it. It’s that impulse, more so than the actual posting, that I find gross. If a wonderful moment happens in your life, and nobody’s around to chronicle it on social media—did it even happen? I realize that’s a lot of info you didn’t necessarily ask for, but it’s also my way of telling you that I feel you. Much as I enjoy snooping on old crushes, and killing time scrolling through other people’s “lives,” I also feel like our world would be better if Mark Zuckerberg had just gotten drunk at University, rather than changing the course of history and technology forever. All of that said, I also feel your friend. Assuming she is not totally out of control, then there is nothing abnormal about posting photos of a trip in progress. Just as your friend has no right to set up a social media account on your behalf, you have no right to make her feel “lame or gross” for behaving in a way that is sort of the status quo. Which brings us back to square one in that neither of you is wrong or right—you’re just opposed. I think your instinct to discuss this before you take off is a good one. That way if there is any tension, friend will have time to calm down, complain about your prudish, superior ways to another friend and then get over it and get excited for your trip. I would address it in the moment. So the next time you are together and she pulls out the selfie stick, say something like, “Oh jeez, I hope that thing doesn’t fit in your suitcase.” Regardless of her answer you can tell her that you are “imposing a limit on social media on our trip.” Obviously you want to come off as sort of jokey, and not like some oppressive dictator, so be mindful of tone. Come at it from the angle of wanting to share an unforgettable experience with one of your favourite people and not one of her favourite devices. As for not wanting to appear at all on her feed, I would say you need to loosen up. a Unless you are in the witness protection program then what sort of damage are we talking about here? You say that you are not on social media, so it’s not like she can tag you or post to your wall. I’m not saying you have to give in entirely.. Once you have been friendly and agreeable about a few shots, you can put your foot down (gently). Imagine the two of you are in Pisa, holding up the tower and capturing the moment via selfie stick. When that’s done, you say to your friend, “okay, let me get one of you alone if you want to post something on social media.” I know, I know—wouldn’t it be so much better if your friend could just come around to your belief system and go off the grid for the entirety of your vacation? And to that I offer the standard, wouldn’t life be so boring if everyone was the same? Safe, happy and selfie-free tavels!