On the precipice of our own international-travel freedom - actually LOOKING at flights for the first time in 2 years - I’m writing this as I remember how I felt when I saw Tan France lapping it up in Iceland in July.
I remember that we had just gone into lockdown, with social media screaming at us to “hang in there it won’t last long”. I remember all the seeds of sadness, longing, jealousy, anger, frustration, and frustration at not being able to just do what you want. I don’t want any of this to reflect badly on Tan - I love him, but maybe the feelings that developed were perhaps feelings that had been there all along, they’ve just been brought up by COVID and COVID’s best friend through all of this - Social Media.
Look at this post.
That is Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, on every travel bucket list and in everyone’s saves (especially since 489 million people saw ol’ mate Justin Bieber’s music video I’ll Show You). If I had set foot near that waterfall, I’d expect to see scenes more like this:
The crowds, the waiting in lines, not really being able to take in nature because you have a very loud family screaming at each other right next to you. This defines our experience, whether we like it or not.
Tan’s photo brought out layers and layers of why COVID hurt us all in different ways, the ways it challenged what we work for in order to be happy.
Scrolling through my feed, I didn’t just feel jealous that he was there, I felt jealous that he was there at a time when all of us couldn’t. It meant knowing that his experience of Iceland was never ever going to be the way that any of us will experience it. No long lines, the place all to yourself, that emptiness, that serene, unbothered experience. This is beyond the VIP experience, this is the (CO)VIP(D) experience.
Social media, which we will talk about in a different blog, has always played a role in giving us this facade of getting close to how others live their lives. And from the 3.8 million of us who follow Tan and many other celebrities, we are seeing that life doesn’t change very much for the globe-trotting, holiday-taking, celebrities out there. COVID saw us (or Italy specifically for some reason) spend 70% more time on Facebook platforms, including Instagram. COVID has also profoundly affected our mental health with 1 in 5 Australians reporting high levels of psychological distress. At our lowest, we’re served posts of the very thing we will never have.
It made me lament over the sacrifices I make everyday to save enough to travel, or to save enough to visit my family in Malaysia, or to save enough to do all of that while paying off my mortgage. COVID not only kept me here to keep me and my loved ones safe, but also put me in a place where I was reminded daily of what I spend my money on, how much (or how little) I have and where my place in society was.
COVID has shown us that money moves. Money puts you above the burden of healthcare systems around the world, and money gives you/shows you things that everyone else will never see. And the worst part is that it has always been that way. The only difference now is that COVID started to take the things that we make sacrifices everyday to enjoy - from going to a fancy restaurant every once in a while, booking that 4 week holiday once a year but only being able to go somewhere affordable, or even saving up just enough to settle into your first home.
And here I am talking about travelling when I know that for many, COVID has made it hard to live, let alone think about holidays. Others who were on their way to climbing out of difficult financial circumstances, were now out of work, plunging them back into a place they were trying to get away from. Others who couldn’t just “#WFM” but had to continue to put themselves and their families at risk by travelling out of home.
In so many ways, COVID has put us all in our place. It has deflated a lot of presumptions we hold on society/social media, it has kept us in our homes, and it has shown us where we really stand in life. It’s important that we take on these complexities of how we feel, especially when we look into what will resonate in content right now and in the future, knowing that some deeply rooted COVID triggers that will be there for years to come. How we tap into our collective understanding while we can’t really articulate it yet and how the world will continue to change - or as we’ve seen - stay the same.
Kara Young is a Content Manager at Resolve Content. While she spends her days finding the best insights, developing strategy and creating content for clients, she’s dreaming of the day that she can go back to Malaysia to see her 93 year old grandmother again.
Keeping Our Services Stable and Reliable During the COVID-19 Outbreak, Facebook,
Covid’s mental health toll: one in five Australians report high levels of psychological distress, The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/14/covids-mental-health-toll-one-in-five-australians-report-high-levels-of-psychological-distress