Short Video Reveals the Ubiquity of Travel in the Instagram Age

This short video reminded me of a line in the movie The Beach, when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character (Richard) opines on modern travel as a conveyor belt of ubiquity:

“I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.”

And that was in the year 2000, back in those halcyon days before Instagram users turned their quiet, rare, private and potentially soul-fulfilling moments into commodities.

This was noticed by the maker of the video (in full, below), Miami-based photographer Oliver KMIA, who also points out a related Guardian article, part of which read:

“These Instagrammers are collectively sucking the joy and spontaneity out of travel photography, and for those unfortunate enough to bump into them abroad, possibly travel itself. We must pity the poor locals, who have to put up with them. […] Social media encourages the memeification of human experience. Instead of diversity we see homogeneity. It’s extremely boring.”

Take a look and have a reflective read.

I came up with this idea last year while traveling in Roma. I wanted to take a look at the popular Trevi Fountain but I never managed to get close to it. The place was assaulted by hundreds of tourists, some of them formed a huge line to get a spot in front of the Fountain. Needless to say that I was very pissed by this sight and left for the not less crowded Pantheon.

I was shocked by the mass of people walking all around the city, yet I was one of them, not better or worst. Like all these tourists, I burned hundred of gallons of fuel to get there, rushed to visit the city in a few days and stayed in a hotel downtown. Then, I remembered a video I watched a few months earlier from the artist Hiérophante (vimeo.com/151297208). I decided to make this kind of sarcastic video but with the focus on travel and mass tourism. Hiérophante admitted that his video was “cliché” and that he got inspired by other videos. So I’m basically making fun of something I’m part of. The irony is strong.

While the era of mass world tourism and global world travel opened up in the 60s and 70s with the development of Jumbo Jets and low cost airlines, there is a new trend that consists of taking pictures everywhere you go to share it on social networks. During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones. As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers…

In the end, social networks are just a tool. For better or worse, (or both). Eventually, I couldn’t secure a picture of the Trevi Fountain for my Instragram account but I still had a very nice time in Italy.

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