Who doesn’t love a good concert?
The buzzing excitement before the house lights go dim, the performer holding his microphone out to the crowd, the killer guitar solo, the one song that makes the audience nearly tear the roof off the place, the girl in front of you who won’t stop taking selfies…
My birthday was last week, and Cory surprised me with tickets to see my contemporary country music crush Josh Turner that night. After dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, Cory took me home to change out of my work clothes and into some jeans and comfy shirt for the concert. We arrived with time to spare and settled into our seats.
Not long after we arrived, a blonde third-wheeling with her friend and friend’s boyfriend sat in front of us. She snapped a selfie the moment her butt hit the cloth seat. Nope, that one wasn’t right. Tilted head to the left. Flashed smile. Snapped selfie. Nope, that one wasn’t right either. Kept head tilted. Focused gaze on front-facing camera. Adjusted all hair to swoop to left side of neck. Made duck face. Held camera above head to make face appear skinnier. Snapped selfie. Yep, that’s a good one…
…to document the first 30 seconds of the concert. But it simply didn’t represent the moment 49 seconds later, so another selfie was required.
Cory and I didn’t even hide our stares as this girl (who looked to have aged out of the duck face at least one driver’s license renewal ago) SnapChatted, posed, flounced, prissed, primped, posted, texted, you name it throughout the entire concert. Even as the crowd rose and cheered for the encore. She also stood, phone in hand, calculating the perfect angle before tossing her hair and smiling while everyone around her cheered and applauded for the performer they paid to see.
If I said I didn’t see her change her facial expression in a selfie with her friend right before capturing the photo to make it appear as though an invisible photographer had taken an impromptu pic of her mid-laugh, I would be lying.
Okay, I was a little miffed at this girl. I stayed miffed anytime I thought about it this past week. She was disruptive, distracting, basically everything your middle school code of conduct told you not to be.
But, because I’m a writer, I started imagining this girl’s back story.
Here she was, the tagalong while her friend was on a sort-of date, which meant her focus went first to the boyfriend. Her own boyfriend may have been unavailable to come, but I made the assumption that she’s single. She was wearing the type of flowy, floral dress that’s in style, showing plenty of her shaved legs that were partially covered by boots. Her makeup was immaculate, and her hair had been flat-ironed to its limit. No, she wasn’t stick-thin, but that was easily “corrected” in a photo by holding the camera up. In short, she was doing everything right to look “perfect” as a female on a night out in 2016. Particularly a female on a night out who plans to post relentlessly to social media.
The more I thought about it, the more I empathized with this girl. While I often try not to give in to social pressures to be like everyone else in my actions, clothes, likes, dislikes, etc., it can be tempting when it just looks so easy. It was even more tempting when I was between relationships, as I assumed this girl was.
I was so annoyed by her actions at the time that I didn’t stop to think that maybe she was exhausting herself to look pretty and do all the things she thinks she’s expected to do because that’s what she sees on her friends’ and celebrities’ social media pages. Not only that, but she may need a cute photo for her dating app, or just needs to make herself seem more fun-loving and outgoing so guys who check her out on social media will instantly know that she doesn’t just sit around and watch Netflix in her sweatpants.
Could it be that what I took for narcissism and self-centeredness was actually someone flailing through social survival techniques to fit in or get a man? Because being oneself isn’t enough? Because insecurity ruled the day and let the norm dictate what beauty is?
Or maybe she just likes to take pictures of herself. I don’t know. Regardless, I think we all need reminding once in a while that we don’t have to look or act like everyone else to be appealing or content.
*Oh, and while we’re at, put the phones down during the concert, people. Your video of the entire show won’t even sound good when you play it back, you’ll miss the moment while you’re in the moment, and the people behind you can only see one-fourth of the performer because your iPhone 7 is in their view the entire time. Anyway…