}

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Christmas experience

A post shared by arthur_amerinz (@arthur_amerinz) on

The photo above is part of what I did yesterday, and why blogging just wasn’t an option. It was also the execution of an experiment I’d been planning, trying to prove what I thought to be true. That’s a lot of work for one little selfie to do.

Yesterday I drove down to Hamilton to pick up my mother-in-law, who’s staying with us for Christmas. Ordinarily, I’d drive down and back the same day, but this time I stayed at her place because the retirement village where she lives was having a “friends and family” Christmas dinner, and several of our family members were going. It was a really nice meal and a really nice time. Today we drove back to Auckland.

I took the photo above after last night, we’d popped our Christmas crackers and put on our silly paper hats, after the dumb jokes had been read, and prizes examined. I have to admit that I still don’t really “get” this tradition, though my sister told me on Facebook that she remembered something similar for birthday parties when she was a kid; I don’t.

I first encountered these things, not surprisingly, my first Christmas in New Zealand, and for years afterward I felt really self conscious when I put on the paper hat. In one of my early years in New Zealand, I “accidentally” tore my hat so I didn’t have to wear it, though, in my defence, it was incredibly hot that day and the hat would have fallen apart from my sweat, anyway.

Be that as it may, Kiwis seem to love the things, and I admit that I still don’t get why, but I play along nevertheless. It may not be my tradition, but it seems to matter to them, so, why not be part of it?

And this is where the experiment part comes in.

I’d noticed that my various Instragram posts have very few “Likes”—generally around a dozen, sometimes a LOT less. My most popular posts have had photos of the furbabies in them, and sometimes pretty secenery. So, I wondered, would a selfie by more popular than my posts typically are?

I decided I’d post a selfie, but the hard, cold reality is that I don’t often do anything that’s all that interesting, so I was having trouble coming up with an idea or inspiration. I was stuck. But then, at that party, I was wearing my silly paper hat, it really was something I don’t “get”, and there it was: The perfect opportunity for a selfie.

And the result was exactly what I expected: A much larger number of “Likes” on Instagram, and also on my personal Facebook when I shared it there—both much larger than usual, though, obviously, not “large” in the Social Media Star sense of “large” number of likes.

What I thought was interesting is that it seems that photos of people doing everyday things is more interesting to people than anything else, with pets a reasonably close second, pretty/interesting scenery a respectable third, and everything else trailing behind—often very far behind.

What I take from this experiment is that people would rather see others doing things than photos representing whatever they’re doing. I need to do more experimenting to verify that, but it seems likely to be true.

I’ve never been one to take a selfie just for the sake of taking a selfie—it’s always been as a way to tell a story—the same, actually, as every other photo I post. Apparently, though, people can identify more directly with a selfie than a more abstract photo meant to help tell essentially the same sort of story.

So, yesterday I was busy getting ready to go to Hamilton, then in Hamilton, then today we came back to Auckland. But along the way I was able to post a photo that seems to prove my hunch. I’m not sure where that will lead, but I kind of look forward to finding out.

It’s all about telling stories, even Christmas stories.

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