Is The Urge To Make Every Vacation Instagrammable Ruining Travel? We Think So

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Know those annoying people who make you wait a good fifteen minutes to dig into the food you’ve ordered at the restaurant because they want to take the perfect shot for their Instagram? That is me, I am people. With a constant need to post about the fun parts of my life coupled with a ‘do it for the gram’ attitude, I’m as Gen-Z as it gets. Hate to admit it but I’m one of those who would fake an entire set-up, plan outfits and carry props to an Instagrammable location to get a good picture (2019 flashback: I wore a chiffon sari on snow-capped swiss alps to recreate a Bollywood moment for my social media). Be it a gorgeous sunset or a cute dog on the street, my first instinct when I see something pleasing to the eye is to pull out my phone and take a picture of it. Because if you don’t Instagram it, did it even happen?

The Instagram Life Is Fully Paid For

Having been trapped in the world of Instagram for a while now, I’ve come to notice if not understand the unconscious pressure of having to show other people that I’m living my best life, though that might not always be the truth. On vacation, this need is heightened. When hundreds of travel influencers show us spectacular (read: heavily edited) photos of the locations they’ve visited and create an idea of a place rather than giving a true reflection of it, we tend to register what a vacation ‘should’ be and look like. What we don’t realise is that we’re being sold a dream of ocean view hotel rooms that cost thousands of dollars a night by people who probably wouldn’t even be able to afford it if it wasn’t for the complimentary lifestyles they live thanks to their follower count. It’s often disappointing when the reality of our vacation doesn’t match up to that. Why doesn’t anyone show the long queues, car breakdowns, stolen wallets and cockroach-infested hotel rooms?

 

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A post shared by Laura Arévalo (@lauritaare)

 

Influencers have been known to erase crowds from pictures and even add elements like beautiful clouds that aren’t there IRL. The Gates of Heaven in Bali is a popular Instagram hot spot for pictures featuring a reflective lake. The reality of the situation is far from what’s seen online— turns out the lake doesn’t really exist and is actually an illusion created by photographers who hold a mirror under the camera. Real or not, people still stand in line for hours to get the picture. 

The Changing Face of Vacations

The company Fake a Vacation takes this one step further. For a fee, they will edit your picture into any beautiful location so it can look like you’re vacationing somewhere fabulous even when you’re not. Want to go to Paris? It’ll be $49.99.

If our main goal has come down to documenting everything as proof of visiting a cool place in order to look cooler online, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of travel which is about the experience and appreciation of the real world and people around us. As tempting as it may be to blame it on the vanity of the acai-bowl eating millennial and Gen-Z, the reason behind our actions might have to do more with our dependence on social reward and validation. 

The problem, however, goes beyond social media fuelling our narcissistic tendencies— our Insta-vacations are having a major impact on the environment due to over-tourism. Thanks to the influencer culture and geotagging feature on Instagram, places like Delta Lake in the USA, Pig Beach in the Bahamas, Trolltunga in Norway etc that were once considered hidden gems have turned into tourist hotspots for aesthetic pictures (that all end up looking the same). Exposing this repetitiveness of travel photography, Alaska based filmmaker and artist Emma Agnes Sheffer started an Instagram account @insta_repeat that features collages of similar images clicked by tourists. 

 

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Lost in the maze of social media, have we become more invested in documenting our vacation than actually experiencing our vacation? Food for thought.

Also read about 15 Fresh And Summery Beauty Products For All Those Beach Vacay Feels

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