Why is it that when you tell people that you’re going on holiday, the first response of so many is along the lines of: I hope you get sunburnt, that it rains every day and that the airport loses your bags? Well that’s what I have noticed anyway. Last night I arrived in Barbados for a holiday that I have been excited about for about nine months. In the interest of not being a total wanker, I haven’t banged on about it an awful lot but, when it has come to polite small talk and planning things with friends, it has of course come up.
Now jealousy is of course, totally normal. It’s not nice, but it’s normal. A whole bunch of my friends went skiing earlier this year and as I sat at home, looking out at a grey London, there was a part of me that thought: God I hope there’s a white out in Switzerland today. When I am slaving to meet some deadline and I open a Snapchat from a friend who is sipping a Pina Colada on a beach somewhere I’ve probably subconsciously hoped that they will spill it and scrolling through my Instagram feed is normally enough for me to want to throw my phone out of the window.
So when people said to me, with a smile on their face but cold hard seriousness in their eyes that they hoped it rained every day, I realised that this obsession that we are forming with praying for sabotage is actually pretty messed up.
But not entirely surprising. We’re inherently competitive us humans, Darwin had it right when he described the survival of the fittest and I think Mark Zuckerberg was more than a bit aware of that when he first dreamed up the idea of Facebook. What do you get when you give a competitive breed a platform from which they can show off to their heart’s content? Trouble, that’s what you get. I’m friends with a girl who put on Facebook last week a photo of the most beautiful sea view ever with the caption “what u doing tomorrow? I’ll be here… I’ll leave that with ya *wine emoji*”. Every caption to every ‘hot dog or legs?’ photo is teamed with a “I hope it’s raining where you are” message and it’s stuff like this that is breeding contention. Of course others are more passive aggressive about it, more subtle: “In paradise with my boyfriend…”, “Wish you were here…”, “Never want to leave this place…” But the result remains the same.
The rest of us are left sitting at home, praying that something goes terribly wrong for our lucky friends. When actually, really, what we SHOULD be doing is taking their messages, not as a reason to resent the world, but as something that can inspire us to work a little harder, save a little more and plan a holiday of our own.
Because really, if it did rain every day out here, has made the day of the friend that wished for it any brighter? If I did lose my bag, would that mean that the person who joked about it had a life full of better things? And if I did get sunburnt to hell and end up looking like a lobster, has that made the person praying for it any more beautiful? Of course it hasn’t.
Showing off is ugly, but jealousy is even uglier and right now, we’re surrounded by both things by the bucket load. In the olden days (hopping back about five years), I’d have had no qualms about uploading a photo of a sunset with some slightly twatty caption and waiting for the ‘jokes’ to role in but these days, I’m loathed to do it at all.
When my friends were on the aforementioned skiing holiday, they were all so careful not to upload too many photos or send us too many Snapchats, to save our feelings, and now I find myself feeling that I ought to repay the favour. They didn’t rub it in when they were having the time of their lives, so why should I? But that makes my job hard, that makes everything pretty hard. If you haven’t snapped your BFFs today are you still BFFs? If you don’t post anything on Facebook for over two weeks, will people assume that you have died? And if I don’t Tweet about the holiday the whole time that I’m here then I’m literally living a lie, which all seems a bit overcomplicated.
The problem here, isn’t actually the person on holiday. The showing off probably isn’t classy, but if ten years on Facebook has taught us anything then surely we know by now that that is just power for the course, it’s just the way that things are now. The problem here, is that horrid streak in all of us that established that it is sometimes easier to bring other people down than be happy for them.
And so I will leave you with this, a quote from the film that taught us more about life than we will ever know: Mean Girls: