Sara spent most of her days hunched over her computer with her mobile phone readily to hand as back-up. Social media was the lifeblood of her existence. On the occasional day when the internet withdrew its mystical powers, Sara's world would seem dull and empty without her beautiful vintage bubble. Early in the morning or late at night, the computer screen held her ensnared, Siren-like in its strange blue light. Her husband had given up trying to speak to her and would often stomp off to bed with the plaintive comment "are you coming up soon?". Her posts indicated that bed-time was rarely before 2 am.
Sara was an avid vintage-fair-goer and knew all the traders by name - not just their own names, but the whimsical, eccentric or downright peculiar names of their small businesses. Somehow these became co-joined with the name of the owner and their identity merged into one. There was unspoken competition amongst the traders to accrue the most likes on their Facebook pages. Some were subtle about acquiring followers, relying purely on chance and a few randomly distributed business cards. Others set about it with military rigour, scouring the Facebook vintage diaspora to find similar businesses to like, in the hope of reciprocated likes and "loves". Reaching any round number of likes, be it 20, 2,000 or 20,000 would be the spur for a Facebook page "giveaway". Sara was rather keen on those, having amassed quite a few wins by being the umpteenth liker, having shared to all and sundry or by posting a clever comment. She was delighted with her haul of coffee table books, handmade knick knacks and free tickets - she wasn't too sure what to do with the enormous handcrafted dog bed made out of old pallet wood, though.
Opening up her laptop or hearing the ping of an incoming message on her mobile created a frisson of excitement. Whose pictures of the latest vintage find or decorative fair would be posted? The Church of All Things Vintage thrived on social media and Sara was its most fervent disciple. Her Facebook approval was given generously as new pictures, comments and updates jumped out of her screen. Sometimes, the photos were quite indistinct - a blur of pink, somewhat faded material, draped over a bleached wood table or ancient old chair. Such photos were regarded by the disciples as the pinnacle of "loveliness" and ardent comments would be posted, always followed by many xxxxs. For it was never enough to say simply that something was nice, the prescribed words might include "lovely" "stunning" "chippy" (only in the case of a painted item) "beautiful" with the occasional "divine". A simple like was acceptable, but a comment re-inforced that the liker understood the good taste and beautiful styling demonstrated in the picture.
Sara enjoyed vicariously the excitement of visiting boot sales and fairs, as her favourite sellers proclaimed their newest finds and bargains. Some were illustrated with casual shots of items piled high; others preferred a more stylized approach with carefully staged photos of their treasures. Certain Facebook sites could send Sara delirious with longing for plainly painted rustic cupboards, fabulous French chandeliers or painstakingly handcrafted fairies and dolls. In a rush of desire to own beautiful things, she would often impulse buy from such posts filling her home with unwieldy pieces of furniture and sweetly crafted pieces, often left in their boxes and postage envelopes. The thrill of the purchase was often greater than the enjoyment of the received item. A lot of Christmas presents were acquired in this haphazard way.
All this Facebook time could have been spent far more usefully on her own business or even simple chores. But Sara was in thrall and all other concerns fell by the wayside. Her vast circle of Facebook "friends" made her feel part of something lovely and exciting. Once upon a time it had been Ebay that had taken hold, but now social media filled the gap. And with Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter all needing her attention, Sara was unlikely to find space any time soon for mundane necessities of real life.