Ah, summer. Social media are just blooming with vacation pictures and advice about Great Beach Reads.
Right, uh-huh. I am currently reading Balzac’s The Country Doctor and I have Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Were next in line. I like reading classics over the summer. I like reading them all year round, really, but I’ve never understood why summer is universally regarded as the time to turn off your brain and read trash. Is it some weird hangover from having summer vacation when we were children?
Anyway, my favorite beach book is George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I often bring Middlemarch on vacation with me, because it’s a book I love and that I can’t finish during my vacation. There’s nothing worse, for me, than finishing my book halfway through my vacation and having nothing to read. Of course, what always happens is that I have to buy another book to finish out the vacation, but then I have two books to haul around in my luggage and I’m a compulsively light packer. So my copy of Middlemarch is well-traveled indeed. William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is another good vacation book, but I contend that Middlemarch is the greater novel. In Vanity Fair, the bad characters stay bad and the good characters stay good and there’s no development. You never know what anybody’s going to do next in Middlemarch, besides which I love Dorothea.
So quit bugging me about Beach Reads. I’m not going to the beach, anyway, this summer.
Because the social media experience often makes me feel bitter and angry, here’s my list of Things I Wish Were Not on the social media. I don’t know how many there will be on this list. There could be quite a lot, I suspect, except I do try to control myself. Here goes:
1) Lists of Great Beach Reads
2) More than one vacation picture from any one vacation. Seriously, we know you’re in the South of France or whatever. We don’t need every detail.
3) Couple double selfies. Or should that be Double couple selfies? Well, you know what I mean. The annoying close-ups of the happy couple just glowing with joy at being framed in an iPhone shot together. Too precious for words, especially for my married peers celebrating double-digit wedding anniversaries. Get a room, guys.
4) Shared posts that try to guilt you into sharing, too, by hinting that anyone who doesn’t go ahead and click that share button is somehow callous or uncaring. Gosh, it’s just sharing some dumb online postcard quotation. No obligation there.
5) Disgusting posts that want to tell about what Mommy found on the floor at 4 am when her child had the stomach flu or what is going on with a two-year-old’s learning curve when she is learning what most two-year-olds learn and what most parents of two-year-olds can’t shut up about. I simply can’t fathom why people reply to posts like this. I mean, ew.
Hey, look! I’ve decided on a nice short list of five things. Believe me, it could go on, as do so many things in the social media. My mother, for example, just forwarded me this immensely long, seemingly-endless nostalgia email of photos depicting pop culture items from the 40s and 50s. And she wants me to share them with my daughter. I, a gen-xer, couldn’t make myself get even halfway through. No way is my millennial daughter spending any serious time scrolling through all that. No way on earth.
So go read a classic novel this summer. Whether you’re on the beach or not.
Love you & leave you,