09 Feb Misleading Instagram Travel Photos Can Ruin Your Vacation for Good
Believers of ‘If you can’t make it, then fake it’ dogma are changing how we travel with misleading Instagram images
Misleading Instagram Travel Photos Can Ruin Your Vacation for Good
Do you have traveller’s soul which urges you to take a holiday every now & then to satiate your inner wanderlust & feel euphoric by the beauty of every place that you have ever visited? Or, are you one of those who travel just to show off & recreate the iconic pictures as posted by your favourite Instagram influencers?
Instagram influencers have long shouldered the responsibility of promoting tourism and inspiring young wanderers to explore the unknown. So far the story sounds fair! But, is this what actually happens in reality? The answer is NO.
These self-proclaimed influencers are best at creating illusions for their followers and all they care about is expanding their list of followers for instant insta-fame. But, they fail to understand what it takes to be actually influential?
Not every single image that appears on your screen is fake. Yet, almost every new user is jumping onto the bandwagon of becoming insta-influencers with their larger-than-life fake travel photoshoots.
Instagram Travel Photos – Illusion or Delusion?
How often did you experience a slight hint of jealousy mixed with a dope of disappointment on catching a picture-perfect travel shoot of the one you follow? The moment you log into your system, notifications start pouring in of people who have updated their profiles with amazing pictures of themselves against spectacular landscapes. And, all you can think of is how amazing their lives are.
But, little do we realise that most of them are nothing but illusions.
After all, very few people are fine with sharing their mundane lives on social media and frankly speaking, no one is interested in giving ‘thumbs up’ to those images. But, there are a few others who enjoy taking things a bit too far, which eventually, distorts reality and creates unrealistic expectations for the followers.
Imagine viewing a picture-perfect location on your Instagram as posted by one of the influencers you follow. Your desire to visit the same location increases manifold. What if the reality of that place turns out to be completely different from the online picture itself, how will you react?
Let me explain with an example –
Instagram image of the Great Wall of China depicts a breath-taking view of the surrounding landscapes, devoid of pushing and shoving of a maddening crowd. But the reality paints a completely different picture here.
If you are lucky enough to land up in China, you will get a reality check of how dubious Instagram images are. In reality, there are tourists everywhere. You should have the luck of the devil to capture an image of the Great Wall minus the blackheads of the crowd.
But, fake or not, the new generation influencers cannot be undermined because they are successful in doing what they are doing. And, you may be surprised to learn that the global market for Instagram influencers is expected to grow from 1.3 billion dollars in 2018 to nearly twice the amount in 2020.
Again, the cloning of images has also become quite a trend. If you browse through the Instagram app for sometime, you are likely to come across pictures that look awfully similar, save for a filter shade that is a couple of degrees higher or lower. Check Instagram account, insta_repeat.
A woman behind insta_repeat says, ‘there is a lot of mimicry everywhere in media, not just on instagram,’ and the purpose of the said account is ‘to critique originality in media creation through the lens (pun intended) of this one ‘genre’ of instagram photography accounts. ‘
Digitalisation has made it possible for copycatting popular images and offering a buffet of filtered shots easily digestible by their blind followers. Hence, it is safer to say that social media-fuelled tourism is real and is enough to compel you to board that flight.
Positive or negative outcomes of Instagram Destination Photos
Instagram’s global user-base has crossed the threshold of 715 million and the figure is rapidly increasing, thereby compelling companies, especially travel agencies to exhibit their services using the perfect visualization tool called Instagram.
In fact, 40% of world travellers choose a location based on how ‘Instagrammable’ the location is.
But, traveling to countries that have iconic landmarks put a towering pressure on travellers to visit and click similar shots with the landmark being the proud background for the picture. Little do we realise that thousands of visitors before us have similar shots of the same place lying in their account.
Also, Influencers like PewDiePie, one of the most followed individuals on YouTube, and plenty of others who have probably managed to hit a substantial figure in terms of followers, are approached by brands to be a part of their influential marketing campaigns. And, they are doing well.
But, they forget that as Influencers, they have a social responsibility towards their followers to fulfil. The shots that they dared to click for their social media posts may have a negative implication on their followers.
For examples –
Norway’s Trolltunga has visitors posing for dramatic photoshoots, either standing close to the edge or dangling their feet over the drop. Unfortunately, in 2015 a young Melbourne student fell to her death trying to replicate the iconic pose.
Likewise, a trio of travel influencers and Creators of the YouTube channel, High on Life, died tragically at Shannon waterfall in Canada, in their desperate attempt to get content for their followers.
Again, there are instances where such mind-blowing Instagram destination images have actually boosted tourism for those locations.
For examples –
Norway’s Trolltunga received just 500 visitors way back in 2009. But, the ‘instagrammability’ of the location has attracted more and more tourists from across the world. By 2017, the figure had increased to about 82,000 visitors in all.
On another occasion, the tourism board of New Zealand had invited social media influencers to post their travel experiences in the small town of Wanaka. The same town witnessed a 14% increase in the town’s tourism.
Likewise, Iceland which is considered a photographer’s wonderland has witnessed more than 2.2 million visitors in 2017, thanks to the immense popularity of the place on Instagram.
A Facebook study found that 67% of young travel enthusiasts take to Instagram for inspiration to explore new places. And, 62% of influencers make use of the same platform to excite travel wannabes for new trips. Insta-stories have truly changed how people decide where to head next.
But, there is always the hidden dark side of the moon.
In 2018, Boracay Islands in the Philippines was shut down for 6 months of restoration after witnessing a heavy influx of tourists, courtesy social media platforms like Instagram. A rise in tourist influx leads to other problems as well.
For example –
A representative from White Banana Beach Club on Siargao Island in the Philippines stated that “One of our major struggles in the island is that the influx of tourism is directly related to waste. Tourists generate so much waste, which they leave here. Most tourists DO NOT care about segregating their waste. We have trash bins labelled for specific waste (e.g., Food Waste, Plastic, Paper, etc.) but we see trash mixed up every single day.”
Another example can be cited here –
China opened the world’s highest and longest glass-bottom bridge stretching 1,000 feet over the lush Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon on 20th August 2016. Within a couple of days, the bridge was overcrowded with thousands of tourists lining up to capture Insta-friendly photos, leading to the closure of the bridge within 13 days.
Today, travel is more about portraying how perfect one’s life is or posting filtered destination images for increasing one’s band of followers and less about the whole experience of the place, or so the experience-hungry narcissistic Instagrammers define travel.
The end solution…
Travel is all about feeling a destination in its most natural form. It is not about recreating your entire experience based on online images or how others did it which is an unnatural approach to travel. There is no point in mimicking others. It is about living the moment, making your own memories & moments about places explored by all or travelled by none which give your soul a feeling of contentment & fulfilment.
The idea is not to quit traveling but to travel mindfully. And, if you are a social influencer, then it is your responsibility to share the background story of the place to avert accidents and prevent over tourism as well as environmental issues that crop up due to the heavy influx of tourists.
So, all we are saying is do a proper research before you finalise on Things to do when you board a flight to your next holiday destination & don’t just put a blind faith on Instagram. Create your own memories, photo albums & happy times rather than following somebody else’s idea of how a destination should be.