Writing Prompts: Preening

To preen is to behave or speak with obvious pride or self-satisfaction. I dare say we’ve all had moments when we’ve been pleased with ourselves, but when does a display of pride become irritating? When does an attempt to strut one’s stuff become inconvenient to others? That’s where I’m going with this prompt, which is inspired by a rather strange set of circumstances from the London Underground.

The London Underground is, as some of you will know, London’s metro railway system. It is an extremely busy railway, conveying millions of passengers across the city, every single year. As a result of this, it gets very busy. People – especially Londoners – using the Underground are generally looking to get from A to B as quickly as possible, and they won’t be spending much time worrying about what other people are getting up to. The whole system is designed to slosh people around, quicky and efficiently, and as such, the trains do not tend to loiter. Services are usually regular and frequent, and as a result, people are quickly shuffling from train to platform, and vice-versa.

As you can imagine, this environment does not lend itself to filming and photo opportunities, least of all for people preening for social media. A complaint on Twitter (sorry, X) showed a video, of a woman trying to film some kind of modelling video for social media, and getting annoyed with people who kept walking through her shot. The complainant, possibly the same person who shot the video, possibly not, was moaning that people were being rude by getting in the way, and that they should wait a few seconds for the video to be completed. They had the audacity to suggest that a very public environment, such as a Tube station platform, should be considered a private space when someone is filming for social media.

The Twitterer then went on to suggest that people were intentionally being rude, because they were pretty. I don’t know if they were trolling, or if they were serious, but they are assuming that the average Londoner had any awareness of what they were doing. The odds are, the commuters were interested only in their journey, and nothing else.

Sometimes, a public place can be a good place for a photo-shoot, or some other social media venture, but most of the time, they are not ideal places to stop for a self-promoting preening session.

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