There was a time when a beach holiday was precisely that; a holiday on a beach. You would lie on the beach, read a book, sip a Cuba Libre, use sun tan cream with an SPF factor of four or even six. Life was simple. Every so often you would have a dip in the pool, or a let the sea wash over your feet. Simple pleasures.
But this was a PSM holiday (Pre-Social Media) when the only digital apparatus on the beach was the water-resistant LCD watch. 10 years ago we were still waiting to see what the iPod Touch would look like. It was a time of innocence.
Fast forward to 2016 and how things have changed.
Social media has changed the way women and men prep for the beach holiday. It used to be good enough just to diet a few weeks beforehand. Not any more. Waxing and self-tanning need to happen long before the first photo of the holidays on day one (or preferably at the outbound and inbound airport) and stick-on crystals for the ultimate ‘belly vajazzle’ need to be bought well in advance. For men and women alike, new tattoos can really enhance those holiday posts, and maybe a few new tats from a beach vendor are just the ticket (permanent as well as temporary).
And what of the photos themselves? It’s not good enough just to stand in the sea and smile sweetly for the camera. We have selfies, belfies (backside selfie) and ‘hot dogs or legs’. These require a selfie stick and indeed a belfie stick; yet more objects to pack in the bag.
And what social media platforms do we need to address, whilst we’re lapping up the sun?
Well, it depends what we’re photographing and whom it’s for.
The classic lying on the beach shots can go onto Facebook (for parents), onto Twitter (for professional reasons) and onto Instagram/Tumblr for your friends. Not forgetting the YouTube videos if you’re a part-time vlogger, and the Vines (oh yes, you need Vines too). If you’re Russian you also need to post to national site VK, and if you’re Chinese you have to cover Qzone, the Weibos and more.
And then for really close friends you need to send a minute-by-minute account with full gallery of photos on WhatsApp (or WeChat if you’re Chinese).
You also need to be fully fluent in emoji before you post, and make sure that your beach photos have the latest emoji pairings, otherwise your multiple photos really don’t tell the full story of your beach holiday.
But ‘lying on the beach’ shots are for amateurs. No self-respecting social media devotee will be content with a straightforward head and shoulders shot. A holiday gallery needs planning, preferably long beforehand. If necessary you need to pack the right props to get the perfect holiday shot. What else could explain all the insane additions to holiday snaps?
And you better make sure that you’ve water marbled your nails, and had your hair perfectly coiffed into a style which resists saltwater and heat. Men can’t escape either, suddenly being required to have a diploma in manscaping: there are pages and pages of tips on the net. And it looks like most swimwear manufacturers are in cahoots with the purveyors of shave gel and body trimmers. David Beckham and Tom Daley have a lot to answer for.
So having done all this prep, which are the photos your friends and followers are craving?
- Acres of body flesh are de rigueur. If you manage to keep your privates unexposed but only just, that seems to be the holy grail
- The exclusive venue/location. You have to be first in your circle to post a pic. Ideally a farflung beach, or you’ve managed to wangle your way into a royal party/yacht
- Don’t forget your meals, just because you’re abroad doesn’t mean you don’t need to post your food on Instagram three times per day. In fact it’s even more important as this is ‘exotic’ food
- Spend as much time as you can applying filters to your photos. No-one wants to see the real colours of those foreign lands. If necessary take your laptop, and send them to a mate for photoshopping if it really matters
- The ultimate posed shot. You have props, you should be able to get into local costume. If you look utterly ridiculous and you couldn’t have tried harder, then you have the perfect 2016 holiday shot
Remember, no-one cares about your holiday once you’re back. You need to impress whilst you’re actually on the beach, and if you’re not spending every evening in your room editing, cropping and filtering, then you’re probably not going to have an album to look back on
And what’s the point of a holiday without that?