Well, my dear readers, here we are: Anti-Insta-January is in full swing.
In striving to resist the lure of Instagram, and reduce my own contribution to the cyber-clutter clogging our information super-highways, rapidly diminishing the e-zone layer and our collective attention span to that of goldfish, I feel like I am truly made some small difference. Like a kid with a garbage bag and slathered in zinc on Clean Up Australia Day, I’m doing my bit via my own personal Tidy Up Insta Month.
But with new discoveries come new Insta-worthy temptation, and nothing is more tempting than a change of scenery.
After many years as a fully paid-up, black-wearing, espresso-sipping, whining-about-the-weather Melbournite, life has brought me to Australia’s north coast—one of the most Insta-worthy locales on earth.
Moving north is like converting from VHS to Netflix; everything is suddenly brighter, more beautiful, and kinda beyond the realms of belief. Like the first time you find tadpoles in your swimming pool. Yep, tadpoles. in. the. swimming. pool. Melbourne tadpoles don’t do pools (neither do most Melbournians, unless we are talking the backyard jacuzzi—an Instagram phenomenon unto itself, so enough said there) but these cane toad tadpoles are hardcore, spawned in industrial strength chlorine. Locals regard them as a pest, yet perhaps their true calling is as our last line of defence in the event of nuclear war. Indestructible. They are the cockroach of the amphibian world. Not that I’ve microwaved one, despite some suggestion that is the penultimate initiation when moving north… #notacoastytilyounukeatoady.
Perhaps the greater discovery this week, the temptation that has truly tested my anti-Insta mettle, has been the coming of music festival season. That great post-festive season unifier; “festivus for the rest of us,” in the wise words of George Costanza. I’m a festival fan from way back—a festival tragic, some might say. A bit like the once cool kid trying to prove he has still got it by ‘dad dancing’ at the 20-year high school reunion, I’ve made a fool of myself at them all: Falls, Big Day Out, Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass.
I never understood why the locals referred to something so magical as ‘Splinter in the a—‘ until I became a local myself. You see, for all the supposed tourist trade these big events bring to local economies, those on the frontline know it actually means streets more congested than Elvis’s colon and supermarket aisles transformed into warzones. You know it’s festival season when attempting to purchase milk and a loaf of white sliced can potentially result in grievous bodily harm. Instagram that!
I do love a spot of people watching, however, and a music festival offers that in spades. It’s the thinking voyeur’s Bunnings. Each year I am more impressed by the sheer effort all these young’uns go to, en masse, to all look so ‘alternative’. Speaking from experience, it costs a lot to look cheap, so I would imagine Mummy and Daddy might need to take out an overdraft on the mortgage to finance young Indigo or Jayben’s festival fitout: it must be heinously expensive-looking, so disenfranchised and ostracised, so misunderstood and iconoclastic. I needed to buy a thesaurus just to ably describe the sheer array of looks on display, so it beggars belief how hard one must work to look so unemployed. There is definitely a niche market opportunity there for some fashion house with a grasp on the zeitgeist. #DoleBludgerbyDolce&Gabbana?
The urge to snap, filter and post the swell of humanity coming together at these events in the name of expressing one’s individuality with all the other individuals—and some funky beats thrown in—is compelling. The flash of phone cameras recording selfies was like nothing I had seen since last year’s Logies, and even that was tame in comparison. Why not just join in? Take a few unsmiling shots and look uber-individual, just like everyone else?
I was rocking the look: khaki dungarees worn over a bikini, under the obligatory festival rainslicker made of Glad Wrap, like a human size condom so ugly it would repel passion rather than encourage it (and as a mother, thank goodness for that! Cheers, organisers!), atop muddy gumboots and capped off with a beaten up old Stetson. What’s not to ‘like’?
Perhaps the only thing that gave me pause was realising how difficult it is to blend in and be authentically alternative when you are clearly getting a bit long in the tooth. It’s uncomfortable trying to be such an individual along with everyone else when you are clearly different… i.e. old. You see, festivals are a great barometer of age, and I found myself getting distracted from instinctively seeking Insta-worthy moments by my own cringe-worthy thoughts.
You know you are officially an old fart when hitting a mosh pit has you wondering:
A). Did I bring Panadol?
B). Did I leave the iron on?
C). Is my health insurance up to date?
D). What DID come first—the chicken or the egg?
E). Have those eco-toilets been emptied recently? Because it rained this arvo, and this mud we have all been swanning about in looks a little suspicious…
F). When did I last have a tetanus booster?
Push came to shove for me, metaphorically at least—there had been plenty of literal pushing and shoving earlier in the queue for the deep-fried quinoa balls—when, after a long day rocking out, I paused to pose for a potential post-pic and was overcome with how cold, muddy, and tired I felt. Suddenly, I knew with utter certainty that I couldn’t touch another UDL vodka passionfruit or Bundy and Coke in a paper cup, and the smell from those eco-toilets was louder then the music.
Sensing the witching hour had long come and gone, I took a chance on booking an Uber and was delighted when it arrived just minutes later. Slipping into the back seat, heater pumping, SBS News blaring, I felt satisfied. “Sorry for such a late booking,” I gabbled. “You know what festivals are like!”
“Lady,” my driver said, turning consolingly toward me, “It’s only 8:30.”
Was that laughter I heard, or just the sad song of pity? Yep, I am officially #old. Perhaps I should have felt abashed, a bit ashamed. Perhaps I should have sprung from the cosy backseat of his Ford Discovery and rejoined the deluded throng with all the other muddy alternates? Instead, I gave myself a smug little high-five, knowing a bowl of two-minute noodles I need not queue for awaited, along with a few episodes of Ozark before I officially called it a night.
Instagram that! #WINNING
So, festival fun and fails: 1, Instagram: 0
*In the interests of complete transparency, I will admit to posting a comparative study on the season, detailing the difference between your classic festive season fruitcake and me, your classic festival season fruitcake:
You see, both tend to appear around the same time of year, but while one is tenderly crafted, full of nuts and fruits soaked in spiced strong spirits, the other crafts things tenderly, is fully nuts, and gets a bit fruity when soaking up spicy beats and strong spirits. One requires a recipe. When the other came out of the oven, thankfully they broke the mould.
It should be noted, however, that neither is capable of taking a decent selfie.