Culture December 1, 2017
Do it for the 'gram.
It seemingly kicked off with sprinkle-covered dreamland, the Museum of Ice Cream. But since then, Instagram has been overcome with a whirlwind of mesmerizing photos from pop-ups such as Happy Place and 29 Rooms. Candytopia will also be coming to Los Angeles soon, and The Broad museum boasts the new Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit, which features the oft-visited “Infinity Room.”
So why is everyone so quick to shell out $28+ fees to dance in a bubble of confetti? Because it’s, like, totally cute. Duh. The obvious aside, it makes complete sense we’d want to invest in an exhibit promising a boatload of fresh Instagram pictures. That’s basically currency these days (especially since most of us Millennials don’t have much real currency to speak of).
We all have a built-in reward system that encourages us to respond — to say, double taps or comments on Instagram. In fact, Patti Valkenburg, professor of media, youth and society at the University of Amsterdam, says that “even the mere expectation of stimulation can initiate the production of dopamine, the chemical associated with reward and pleasure.” So, Happy Place literally is just that, because the mere idea of all of those “likes” that bomb gif of you jumping into a fake pot of gold can garner you will make your damn day. The power of social media, man.
It doesn’t hurt that we seem to be so miserable in our personal and professional lives. “Workers are just not happy, and not clear about what they are supposed to be doing or how they are supposed to be doing it,” according to “Fully Connected” by Julia Hobsbawm. And maybe you do like your job. Hey, I know I love mine. But the truth is, a lot of people don’t.
And with how quickly the world moves nowadays, we can’t even distract ourselves by dreaming of long-term goals, vacations or purchases we’d like to make. If you want something but don’t have time to shop… just snag it on Amazon.
“Because we have so little time to long for something, there is a kind of restlessness in our lives which leads to us enjoying ourselves less… you’re constantly on the treadmill of dissatisfaction, always on the lookout for the next product, the next set of new clothes, the next gadget, without ever reaching the stage of quiet enjoyment and being satisfied with what you have,” Mark Mieras says in his book “Liefde” (“Love”).
It turns out that anticipation is actually good for you, since it makes your brain produce dopamine – yeah, that magical chemical set off by those “likes” and double taps on your phone. “Research shows that people are happier looking forward to a vacation than during the actual vacation itself,” Lissette Thooft writes in “A Book That Takes Its Time.”
Of course, we’re not really taking vacations anymore, are we? Project: Time Off found that only 44 percent of Millennial women used their vacation days – compared to 51 percent of their male counterparts. AKA – we’ve got literally nothing to look forward to, so where are we expected to get that sweet, sweet dopamine fix?
And that’s where these pop-ups come in. Twenty-eight dollars (plus fees) is a small price to pay for happiness in Trump-era America, wouldn’t you say? It’s like having an annual pass to Disneyland. It’s the perfect place to escape for a little while, forget about your lack of benefits, your insane college debt and the horrifying state of the world… all while day-dreaming about your stunning Instagram photos that are about to get all the love from your besties.
The latest venture, Candytopia, comes from celebrity candy stylist Jackie Sorkin and promises “an immersive exhibit that brings a sugarcoated, dreamworld candy factory to life,” … oh, and “sweet surprises around every corner.” Read: while the displays may not all be edible, yes, you will get to eat candy here. It kicks off just after LA’s iteration of 29 Rooms, on December 15, for a limited, three-month run.
Until then, forget visions of sugarplums … I’ll be over here dreaming of tickets to more Instagram pop-ups, like Candytopia.
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