Instagram has changed the way travel is seen worldwide; how people interact with places, where they choose to go and the art of telling travel tales. Over the last decade, Instagram has helped build our travel dreams, but has it destroyed them too?
People will do everything to get the right Instagram photo
Instagram has become a crowded market for existing (and wannabe) influencers, having over a billion monthly users. Nowadays, people will do everything to get the picture they want. Daredevils are living on the edge of cliffs, trespassing, rooftopping, smooching leaning out of moving trains, all these extreme actions resulting in a number of fatalities. There were over 250 selfie-related deaths between 2011 and 2017.
There are several bad influencer actions that no one should do, no matter how much they want to generate reactions: posting photos with underprivileged children while publicizing their HIV status, playful selfies at Auschwitz, eating endangered wildlife,etc.
On Instagram everything is more glamorous and staged. Did you know desert safaris, cave visits and deep-sea dives are activities that may be carried out wearing evening gowns? Disingenuous photo setups like excessively large food servings on floating baskets make great photo compositions but they aren’t representative of how most people really travel and essentially encourage food wastage.
Hyper-editing, brighter colors, erased tourists and even the addition of fake birds, these are all part of Instagram narrative. Images may not be factual representations and as such, we can’t always believe what we see because there’s no definitive rulebook for Instagram influencers yet.
Great Tourism Asset
Instagram is marvelous as a holiday planning tool. Geotagging means desirable sites can be identified and saved in folders, like curating one’s own holiday brochure. Instagram is part of travelers’ decision-making process with people choosing locations based on potential likes as a recent research shows. Some places like Cappadocia, Horseshoe Bend and Norway’s Trolltunga have become destination celebrities.
There are also downsides, and overtourism is one of them. Santorini has capped daily visitor numbers and Boracay in the Philippines closed for six months to recover from the effects of overtourism.
New job roles
Novel professions have cropped up like Royal Caribbean’s Instagrammer-in-Chief role to cater to our Insta-obsession. Instagram Butler is now a real job at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, believe it or not.
We all know the syntagm: “Pics or it didn’t happen,” right? The urge to document experiences means we’re always switched on and in search of #instabrag moments. We come to see the world but increasingly do so via filters and stories. There are those who try to save us from ourselves while some businesses actively encourage this penchant for self-expression. We just have to choose the best option for us: disconnecting to reconnect with what really matters, or staying connected and try to influence.
At the end of the day, we may choose to view Instagram as what it is – a series of squares where one share just what he/she wants, in a staged environment. However, it’s undeniable they’re shaping how we see the world.