Our selfie-obsessed culture is changing the landscape in which we consume content. We are no longer satisfied with just observing art, we want to be a part of it. And when our food is just as colorful as our Instagram timelines, we prioritize appearance over taste, and shamelessly post the uneaten rainbow grilled cheese sandwich, finding comfort in our 2000 likes... despite the $12 price tag. I hate it when I'm out to dinner with my friend who spends more time asking me for "candid photos," as she seamlessly strikes the perfect "i have no idea there's a camera taking a photo of me holding my Chardonnay as I stare longingly into the distance" pose, than inquiring about my life or reflecting on her own. She barely touches her plate, unless it's to capture all three courses on her Snapchat story, before we close our tab and proceed to the colorful wall outside in pursuit of a few additional snapshots. I loathe this behavior because I'm equally responsible here.
I constantly search for the perfect insta-worthy locations to cushion my feed when truth-be-told, I could be expending that energy on finding things that bring me joy, like eating chocolate or cuddling my dog. Perhaps that's why i was intrigued by Happy Place, a pop-up exhibit in Downtown Los Angeles intended to bring the best of both worlds: joy and the perfect selfie. I willingly shelled out the $35 ticket price to see what the fuss was about. *Fun fact, for the exorbitant cost of $199, or something along those ridiculous lines, Happy Place offered visitors a VIP experience including a faster entrance.. and a personal photographer.* Happy Place shamelessly embraced the concept of being a selfie-centric pop-up where you pay to obtain content. Would I find happiness? Would I find the perfect photo? I got a solid dose of both, with a dollop of self-hatred.
My best friend, Emily, and I showed up thirty minutes prior to our given time slot in our camera-ready outfits and a bag of additional "costume changes". We were paying $35 to take cute photos, and we intended on milking every penny for all it's worth. For such an Instagram-oriented pop-up, the lighting was sub-par. Still, we photographed on, and something about being surrounded by a slew of Insta-hoes shamelessly striking poses made me feel less crappy about paying money to take photos of myself.
Joy: Emily and I were dying of laughter at our ridiculously methodical photography game-plan, which in turn, resulted in joy. Happy Place consisted of numerous rooms, and once you entered the pop up for your chosen time slot, you could stay until closing. However, once you left a room, there was no revisiting that room. This played to our advantage: as our large group grew frustrated with the overcrowding in a given room, proceeding onwards to the next, Emily and I hung back, claiming our territory against the most Insta-worthy walls.
Perfect photo: I wouldn't say I scored the perfect photo, but I did snag some solid content. As you see in my photos here, the rooms were varied and visibly pleasing. Still, as I mentioned before, the lighting was not ideal.
Self-hatred: I haven't reached the pinnacle of shameless social media enthusiast. I always feels somewhat guilty when passerby watch me posing for an Instagram photo. In this particular scenario, those pangs of guilt were quickly diminished by the comfort I felt knowing that we were all here for the same reason.
Was it worth the ticket price? That's open to interpretation. Things are what you make of them, and Emily and I made this an entirely fun experience. But if you appreciate the finer things in life, like genuine conversations and experiencing the world in live-time, this one's not for you.