When the Weather is Fine Online
As we slogged through these past few months of soggy rain, muddy mornings, and the cold, sunless days that many of my colleagues cheerfully informed me constitute ‘English Summer’, I began to become aware of yet another way in which Facebook affects my experience of daily life. As I sat under woollen blankets with the heat turned on during miserably chilly July days, I saw a completely different reality being cavorted in front of my face on the social network and developed a strange new emotion: weather envy.
any Facebook devotee, I have gone through all the other spells of jealousy the
social network can so easily and innocently ignite. Before I was married, I
felt pangs of longing when looking at wedding pictures. When working away in my
office cubicle in NYC, I sighed when gazing upon the exotic travels of others.
I coveted kittens (until we adopted some), puppies, babies, all the great new
things my favourite brands were advocating, and delicious looking drinks and
meals. But never, until now, had I felt such intense longing for the weather
being thoroughly, and somewhat callously if you consider how many of us were without
sunshine the past weeks, embraced and celebrated online.
It really hit home one day when I compared my Facebook profile with those of my friends who were living in places that actually experience the seasonal occurrence of summer (and even more tragically, with those in sunny winter spots). While my page was filled with enthralling pictures of our newly adopted kittens enjoying various sedentary indoor pursuits, such as falling asleep while watching films, the pages of my friends were literally glowing with sunny outdoor activities. They inconsiderately posted image after image of barbecues, sunburnt smiling faces, bike rides in sandals and shorts, epic hikes that didn’t involve being swallowed by mud, swimming in shining water, and sunlight everywhere – on beaches and boats and in parks and gardens and you name it.
For me, this reinforced how social media has made the world feel more connected and much smaller. Because Facebook makes me feel like my friends live just down the street, rather than in countries hundreds if not thousands of miles away, it seemed incomprehensible that they would be enjoying a season I had, thus far, been so utterly denied. They were just a few clicks away, why was it summer there and not here? It was quite a disconcerting feeling that so many people I feel so close to were enjoying a completely different reality and that the weather in this online world was quite annoyingly fine.
Of course, now that summer has finally arrived here in the UK (at least for a few days), my worlds have realigned and I am no longer suffering existential angst when looking at the summertime experiences of friends – well, at least those that aren’t frolicking on tropical beaches.