An insight into the havoc social media is wreaking on the miserable and penniless lives of the humble and hungry exchange student.
Let’s talk about food. We are all familiar with this new phenomenon of feeling the need and compulsion to document every single thing we ingest, edit the evidence so it appears even more enviable and then share it with a weary and unwilling world.
Erasmus students however – irritatingly buoyant with impermeable enthusiasm – take this to unprecedented and frankly unnecessary levels.
Maybe it’s the shock of discovering a cuisine which doesn't feature potatoes as the cornerstone of every meal (a serious oversight, in my opinion) or maybe they are committed to a career in food photography (I hear employers are salivating in abundance at the graduate gates). Whatever the reason, my Erasmus peers are possessed by this evidently irresistible urge to photograph whatever pretzel, baguette and frittata that happens to come their way and then share it with 900 of their closest friends and strangers.
Why would anyone want to see a picture of food that somebody else is eating? Why would I want to know that while I’m sitting in my nine metres squared bedroom/bathroom/kitchen/living area/hovel (the French are architectural masterminds) ignoring life and learning lyrics to offensive French rap, other people are outside, in the world, discovering and exploring and eating delectable treats? As if I needed reminding that everyone else’s life (on Facebook, at least) is better than mine. The inconsideration and insensitivity is incomprehensible. It also gets worse.
Clearly tormented with doubt that maybe a picture doesn’t tell a thousand words, they then hurl hashtags left, right and centre just to be absolutely certain that it is absolutely clear that they are drinking a #cappuccino in a #café on #erasmus. To be fair, these truncated explanations are often necessary as they have edited the photo to such an extent that hardly anything is discernible. Except, of course, the blatant fact that this person – and, let’s face it, we all have someone specific in mind now – is having a wonderful time. And we (the pyjama-clad and reclusive) are not. Lies! Here’s what they've conveniently forgotten to include in their post:
First, that croissant you’re salivating over is not actually what they ordered. Having tried – through a series of emphatic gestures and suspicious mumbling – to order a pain au chocolat and failed in this endeavour, they’ve been handed a plain croissant and, too embarrassed to further hold up the queue snaking out the door, they’ve had to smile and pretend to be delighted even though everybody knows an ordinary croissant is a poor man’s chocolatine. It’s also burnt which is why it’s smothered in icing sugar.
Secondly, that foamy, chocolate-dusted cappuccino that’s got you frothing at the mouth? Undrinkable. They don’t even like coffee but in a heroic attempt to ‘immerse themselves in culture’ have ordered it along with five sugars to dilute the ‘coffee taste’. Except the waitress forgot to give them a spoon and now – the name for spoon being buried and lost in obscure memories of Junior Cert French – they’re sitting in a sulky and self-loathing silence, drinking a coffee in which all the sugar is congealing, thick and syrupy, at the bottom, separated by the bitterness of regret and unsweetened cappuccino.
Therefore, Irish friends, enjoy what you have while you have it. Savour the ability to shout at a waitress for messing up your order. Revel in the simple, arrogant pleasure of knowing the word for spoon in whatever country you find yourself in, and being able to demand one wherever and whenever the inclination tickles you.
Enjoy food, enjoy life...just keep it off my newsfeed!
Photo: M00b/ Flickr