Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Girl Online: Doing things for the ‘Gram

The fall of my senior year of high school, pictures taken at the Museum of Ice Cream took over each and every one of my social media feeds. With cutesy inspirational sayings, colorful backdrops and picture-perfect lighting at all moments, how could they not? Tickets to this experience would be sold online on a month-to-month basis and would be sold out within minutes. Week by week I would see countless cute pictures taken in the museum, until the day finally came where my family and I drove up to San Francisco to experience the Museum of Ice Cream for ourselves. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what I got was 45 minutes of waiting in line in a random building to take pictures in front of pretty walls and unicorns, among other things, until we’d made it through the maze. Everything I’d seen online seemed like so much fun (the constant deception of social media), but the experience was completely underwhelming. For spending $38, all I got was a scoop of mediocre ice cream and a few cute pictures that I could post. Not worth it.

The concept of selfie factories originated around 2016, starting with the original Museum of Ice Cream in New York. In short, they are art installations created with the purpose of taking pictures, whether it be with the installation itself or as a part of it. They’ll usually have a few rooms (Refinery29’s 29 Rooms has, as noted, 29 rooms; Color Factory has 15), and people who come to visit the museum have 90 minutes to explore, but there’s not much to do if you’re not there to take pictures. And of course there’s a price tag that’s bigger than the worth of the “museum” itself. Basically, you’re paying money to take pictures. And for what? For likes? For the clout? 

These days, it feels as though a lot of what we do is cultivating our lives so we can get a picture to post (have you ever heard the saying “Pics or it didn’t happen?”). We go to certain restaurants to try aesthetically pleasing food that looks better than it tastes, go to certain places just to get the iconic shot and buy certain clothes so we can fit the style. While I do believe that trends that pick up on social media are good for the businesses on the receiving end of the massive influx of customers, there is something unsettling about going to a place just because it looks cool. There’s a difference between going to a beautiful place and going to a place simply because it is beautiful. We gravitate toward places that look hip, but we sometimes ignore the hole-in-the-wall places that have the best food. Focusing on aesthetics in every aspect of our lives doesn’t allow us to appreciate things for what they are, only for what they appear to be.