In addition to being a developing country, the fact that Laos is small, landlocked, and Communist, gives it a very high exotic and obscure coolness ranking. Thus, falang believe that basically every aspect of their daily lives is fascinating and unique. Falang in Laos thrive off of the jealousy of friends from home, which allows them to bravely endure daily trials and tribulations–like when the mani-pedi place downtown is too busy on a Sunday, or the internet goes out at Joma–in hopes of always having a good story.
Luckily, social media makes it easier than ever for them to share their foreign and completely one-of-a-kind escapades. This allows for posturing with other falang abroad, eliciting shocked and envious comments from falang not adventurous enough to travel, and amassing as many “likes” as possible.
Examination of a typical falang facebook profile reveals numerous tell-tale signs of careful Expat Coolness Cultivation:
- Profile photos engaging in extreme activities, on mountains, or with locals. (The introduction of the Cover Photo has offered falang the welcome opportunity to showcase their striking foreign panoramas.)
- Checking themselves and their friends in to exotic locations: “__________ is at Meuang Pakse” or “____________ is at Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar with 3 others”.
- Instagram photos of sunsets, lunches, and motorbikes.
- Complaints about the daily inconveniences of life abroad: “Ugh the internet is hardly a trickle today!” or “So much boat racing traffic I can’t go anywhere!”
- Overexaggerated excitement about managing to find falang comforts in Laos: “OMG just found Skittles at DMart/Simuang/Phimphone, so excited!” or “The turkey sandwich is back at Joma. Makes me nostalgic for home!”
- Appreciating the beauty of living such a meaningful and culturally-enlightened life: “The old Lao woman at the end of the street smiles and waves to me each afternoon, which always brightens a stressful day” or “I can hear tuk-tuks, birds, dogs, and a distant temple gong right now, the symphony of the city…”
- Outright bragging: “Manicure, massage, and happy hour, not a bad life!”
It’s only polite to like your falang friend’s status about her meaningful experience sinh-shopping in the local market, and then she’ll return the favor by liking your next (and 12th) latte pic.