AS 2018 meanders to a close, there comes a late contender to sweep the Did I Really Just Read That? and Stop The World: I Want To Get Off … categories.

I'm talking about Swiss hotel chain Ibis trialling a "social media sitters" service. The month-long pilot allowed guests staying at its Geneva and Zurich properties to book appointments with local social media influencers.

The influencers take holiday photographs and then post content to the guest's Instagram account, a snip at just £70 per two-hour slot. "The new service is all about digital detox," said a spokesperson for Ibis – without a hint of irony – in a statement translated through Google.

My first instinct was dismay and derision, a reaction usually reserved for those who stick fake lashes on their car headlights or wear flannel pyjamas to Tesco. Has the vanity of humanity really reached such eye-watering levels?

We've come a long way from when you would pop into Boots in your lunch hour and collect a stack of 4x6in prints. A bit like throwing open Pandora's Box, the exact contents of your camera film was always a complete mystery until this moment.

It was a time-honoured tradition. You would retreat to a quiet corner with the glossy wallet in hand, flick through – discreetly binning any shots where you had your eyes shut or looked like a sun-burned walrus languishing on a lounger – before showing off the rest to friends and family.

They, in turn, would feign interest in the big paella you ate, ooh-and-ah over blurry-looking fish on an extortionately-priced snorkelling trip, admire the towel origami rustled up by the hotel staff and swear blind that itsy-bitsy, two-sizes-too-small bikini was a flattering choice.

You would do likewise when it came to the christening and birthday party photographs of their offspring. "Oh no, the baby's head doesn't look oddly-shaped. Yes, Abcde is a lovely name …" The entire equilibrium of the universe hinged on such moments.

These days, however, many of us provide a running commentary of our lives through social media with a steady stream of images posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram et al. I'm not adverse to doin' it for the 'gram myself, but would be the first to admit, I'm pretty rubbish at it.

For a start, my T. rex-esque short arms make taking selfies a challenge. Get a selfie stick, I hear you cry. Well, I've been wary of these contraptions ever since I saw someone answering their mobile phone outside the Louvre in Paris with the selfie stick still attached.

It was as if she had been impaled by a projectile golf club. Or had an antenna sprouting skywards like some sort of end-game technology in Black Mirror. Bystanders kept getting clouted as the user swung herself around mid-conversation. Yep, it's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye …

Then there's the breed of social media user that has their nearest and dearest – usually a long-suffering partner – taking endless photographs in a bid to attain a flawless image that generally requires an ability to defy the laws of physics/gravity/common sense.

Observing a pretty beach sunset in Majorca last summer I clocked no fewer than a dozen instances in one small stretch of folk berating their other halves for not being able to pull-off an Annie Leibovitz standard portrait while using an iPhone camera in fading light.

"No babe!" would come the cry. "That one makes me look stocky. You need to elongate my limbs." A pause. Click, click, click. "Now it looks like I have 19 chins. Try again." Click, click, click. "Do my ears look wonky? They do! My ears look wonky. Aaargh! Take another one …" On and on it went.

One poor chap was lying prone across the tramlines as he attempted to find some unachievable angle. From the pained expression on his face, dicing with death seemed the least of his worries.

Picturing him now makes me think that I may have misjudged this "social media sitters" idea too harshly. Perhaps it could be just what we need to get the equilibrium of the universe back into balance? Or at least save the sanity of those poor souls tyrannised by the selfie-obsessed.

Hot wheels

A PRESS release dropped into my inbox that should have come with a trigger warning. The subject line read: "Play Like Mum Launches New Silver Cross Wave Doll's Pram".

I was instantly transported back to the childhood Christmas when I asked Santa Claus to bring me a doll's pram. From the outset there was a niggling doubt that I didn't really want it. But all my friends were getting one and I didn't want to be left out.

As soon as it was unwrapped, the regret set in. Then came a brainwave. I can still recall the thunderous look on my mother's face when she caught me hammering bits of wood onto the stripped-down frame. The pram was repurposed as a go-kart.

Mind you, it took a little longer until I got to test out my trusty four-wheeled steed. I was swiftly grounded. Selection box privileges were also suspended. In hindsight, I should have at least waited until after Boxing Day before upcycling. Let this be a lesson.

Heirloom confusion

IT'S funny how your world can turn on a sixpence. Perusing an upmarket department store recently, I overheard a young woman saying to her mother that they needed to get the "family cloth".

In my mind's eye, I was envisioning a beautiful table cover. Something intricately woven and lace-embroidered that would become a timeless family heirloom passed down through the generations. I imagined them joyfully browsing the haberdashery to find the perfect fabric.

A few days later I was recounting this story to an environmentally-savvy friend who, once she picked herself off the floor laughing, explained that "family cloth" is, in fact, an eco-friendly, reusable toilet paper alternative.

Let that just sit with you for a minute. And here's me thinking all this time that those who tear apart three-ply toilet roll to make one-ply were the worst kind of people.