When I started writing this Postcard, I ended up staring at the screen. What did I want to write about again? My thoughts were going wild – from work, to world politics, fashion, to injustice. I had completely lost my chain of thought. I started searching online for a potential impulse for this Postcard, but I was blank. Whatever I found, I did not feel like writing about it. I got up and took a break, maybe this would help me to sort my thoughts.
It is difficult to put my thoughts in words, even more difficult on paper – or in my case, online. I have stopped actively reading the news – it feels like the world is become worse every day and the way journalists try to grab our attention with negative headlines is just horrific. With all these bad things happening all over the world – from wars, to climate change, rampant injustice, economic challenges – is it even worth writing about things like fashion? Or, is it acceptable to still do so? Is it OK to follow the current haute couture shows in Paris? I feel conflicted.
At the same time, when I scroll online or observe what is going on in “real life”, I feel that these topics are really far away. When I open my Instagram, it does not seem like we live in difficult times at all. If you do not own a Birkin bag, do not have a dedicated sales assistant at Chanel or fly private, it seems that you are a total failure. The “problems” online are about price increases for bags rather than how to deal with the rise in populism or how to address climate change. I know, I know – we cannot all sit at home and obsess about the world’s issues. We are just human beings who also want to have fun. (You may also say that it may be what Instagram shows me based on my preferences, but based on that, I should see much more content about business and politics than duck-faced influenzas telling me what to eat.)
Recently, I have been reading a lot about the turn of the 1920s in Europe; the period just after the First World War and the Spanish Flu and before the Great Depression and the Second World War. This was the time of the flapper women, the lavish parties, the fun. Many books describe the overall environment of the time as a surreal party. People already knew what was most likely to happen, yet they did not want to see it.
In Austrian we have a saying for this kind of attitude: “Wos kost’ die Wöd?” (in German: “Was kostet die Welt” and in English: “What does the world cost?”). It is a bit tricky to translate what this means. In Austrian, we immediately know what you want to say. It basically means to live life to the fullest. Actually, it means live it in an even more extreme way; live beyond your limits.
Maybe today’s interaction on social media is similar. Maybe we resort to a different reality (social media) because our reality is not good enough anymore or because we try to avoid what is really going on? Maybe we try to achieve a life online which we simply cannot have in reality. With housing prices soaring, energy prices and groceries skyrocketing and inflation at high levels, I think bags costing as much as cars are not the things people really think about. Yet, Instagram and TikTok tell us this is the “real issue”. And because nobody really knows what is real and fake in the online world, it may be tempting to pretend.
I hoped that writing this Postcard would assist in sorting my thoughts, but I am still jumping from one topic to another. It is difficult to stay focused. But coming back to my question above – Does anyone still care about “superficial things” fashion? Or is it OK to write about it? And if we talk about fashion, does it go deeper than the hunt for the next “It-bag”?
I decided for myself that it is OK to also think about beautiful things. It is kind of an escape. I am not talking about influencer recommendations about which bags to buy; I am talking about the visions of designers, the link to art, innovations in the space – and its beauty. I admit it, it is an escape for me as well. And sometimes we need just that – an escape for a bit to be able to then focus on how to tackle the “real” problems.
What do you think? How do you feel about these contradictions? What is going on in your head? Let me know!