If it’s not on Insta, did it even happen?

As we exceed tipping point of peak stuff and seek to experience more, we look at the conflict of collecting souvenirs in the form of posts and likes against soaking up the moment

We’ve been talking ‘experience economy’ for ages, sounds cool, but we think it’s fake news; an epic fail. Instead, we’re in a souvenir economy and it’s a tough landscape to prosper. In our quest to open ourselves up to experiences, we think we’ve missed the point. We’ve accidentally put up new barriers and started collecting something else. No longer ‘stuff’ – we’ve moved on from that – now we’re proudly telling people, with perfectly shot, filtered and curated photos , followed by a heap of likes and glowing comments. Thank goodness for Insta Stories, where we can post pics that only score a 9/10 on beauty, wit and a ‘life to be jealous of’. We’re grateful to have a space for the things that are not quite Instagram-worthy, that don’t deserve a perfect square.

Experiences like Friends Fest, become a photo taking exercise

Instagramable products are the making of eateries, like Taiyaki NY

Striking interiors draw us into spaces like Sketch London

We’re being careless with our own version of events

Experiences are complicated. We tell ourselves, it’s about the moment – but really it’s about the memory. And our memories are very easily influenced. An enjoyable meal catching up with old friends, full of laughter and ‘we must do this more often’ is ruined by the uptight one who gets on their calculator app to squabble over a fiver. The meal itself was full of fun, but now our memory tells us different. It has been altered. We can’t help but worry that, in a time when if we forget to take a photo, we may as well not have gone out for dinner at all; likes and comments are the currency. They equate to good experiences, as our memories are validated, our souvenirs celebrated.

Ok, now we’ve really lost it

During a recent birthday celebration for a friend, a charming waiter clocked the presents, chinking glasses and delivered a free – but more importantly stunning – cocktail. The elegant drink, in a  champagne flute, transitioned from sophisticated yellow nectar to almost pink, with a subtle dry-ice smoking effect. My friend complained: “He could have warned me so I could Boomerang. I missed it, I missed all drama.” It was her birthday, so I avoided an eyebrow raise, but reflected, “Did that just happen? What is wrong with us all?!” She didn’t miss it, she saw every wonderful moment.

Brands are winning (short-term) by helping us fast forward

The rise of the Trip Advisor Instagram tours (yes the image that conjures of a photograph relay-race about a beautiful city is correct) and apps that read books for us makes it oh-so-easy for us to skip the real experience. A win in the short term – but we predict we will wake up and slow down.

Brands, which help us get a grip, will thrive

We don’t want to live in a world that’s dull! We believe brands, which help us live in the moment and create great narratives, will connect. Festivals and gigs are some of the first to open our senses and push us to watch for ourselves, not through a screen, but with blanket bans on devices. But where’s the feel-good in that? Getting kicked out for using our phones with no refund, might be a funny story at some point in the future, but it doesn’t feel-good in the moment and certainly does not fit with our personal Insta-brand. Being policed on a night out isn’t going to create good memories.  We think brands who encourage (not force!) us to live in the moment will win. Imagine a restaurant which takes your phone on arrival , charges it – so you can enjoy an immersive dinner  – then gives it back , with a full battery,  and the bill? Let’s demand more and create better products and experiences

Smart brands play up to the obsession with stunning exteriors we can’t resist posting to spread their brand buzz

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