Is Instagram Ruining Our Travel Memories?
Instagram pictures taken by travel and lifestyle influencers are a curious balance between unattainable and oddly relatable goals. The average follower cannot appreciate the extraordinary hard work and time it entails to achieve these insanely contrived “spontaneous” images. Just the right amount of casualness is key to the perfect influencer aesthetic to achieve an in-the-moment feel that normalises their glamorous lives. These methods are designed to make their following feel like they’re a part of their lives as friends or family who aspire to be them.
A cultural trickledown of digital influencer obsession is changing the way we travel. We used to travel to feed our curiosity and broaden our minds and hearts. Travel photography was a medium used to immortalise those memories and encouraged us to see as opposed to just looking. Lately, photography no longer serves that purpose for most of us. It is no longer about the destinations and experiences, but more so about projecting the idea of our lives being perfect on social media. Beautiful scenery, delicious food and thrilling activities have all become mere backdrops for us.
Most of us have developed an “if it’s not on Instagram did it really happen?” mentality. At the top of a mountain, you are most likely going to spend more time trying to get the perfect shot than soaking in the landscape that surrounds you. Recently, I watched a man on a beach spend at least 45 minutes trying to take the perfect picture of his partner; he would take a picture, show it to her and she would ask him to take it from a different angle over and over again. The worst part was as soon as they were done with the photo shoot, they left. That was literally why they came to the beach that day; can you imagine being so deep in the rabbit hole?
Instead of documenting real memories, we document the moments we think we’d like to remember. The moments that convey our holidays as being aesthetically pleasing and things that work best for our Instagram feed. This means we risk turning our holiday memories into pretentiously stylised highlight reels and all the important memories slip through the cracks.
As a millennial, most especially, one can appreciate the importance and significance of social media. Although you may enjoy looking at pretty pictures and love posting what you consider to be pretty travel pictures, make a conscious decision to soak in precious moments and to spend at most 20% of your time taking pictures “for the ‘gram”.
It is important to appreciate influencers for what they are. Their lives are not nearly as glamorous as they appear and neither will yours no matter how much time and funds you spend in an attempt to look and feel like your “friends and family”.
Let’s make travel fun again!