Here’s life as a bizarre feedback loop…
The tourists takes their holiday snaps. They post them on Facebook and Twitter Instagram. Other people see the photos, which become a meme* for their pics. These in turn get posted on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. These in turn…
Take the above video, a splendid two-minute collage by Oliver KMIA called “Instravel – A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience”. It’s about all those deeply unoriginal and Instagrammable moments of the mass tourist, from the photos of passports to the Underground maps, with everything from the Leaning Towers of Pisa to the beach selfies and ramen bowls in between.
OK, I’ve done it, you’ve done it. We might try to do something different but it’s getting increasingly hard to avoid. Is this what the world is coming to? Where people travel to the other end of the planet in order to have virtually identical experiences?
Of course, the “Instagram effect” goes much further than holiday snaps (or using exactly the same set of digital filters that reduces everything to a similar rose-tinted, high-contrast, super-sharpened, brightened, tilt-shifted, hypersaturated view of the world).
Photo-sharing apps are shaping everything from fashions in clothes and makeup to the way that all those “quirky”, “individualistic” coffee bars and “shabby chic” restaurants with their carefully choreographed post-industrial cosiness (you know the look: bare brick, painted floorboards, exposed air vents, recycled dock cranes and mining equipment etc etc etc) all seem ever so bloody similar.
Even their poor chefs end up trying to be different by cooking identical-looking dishes of Instagrammability, then try to outdo each other by serving it up on ever more daft “plates” and slates and suchlike, and your cutlery or wine or bill comes in, um, a jam jar or Squeezy bottle or what have you.
Please tell me if someone has already written a PhD thesis about how home interiors are all converging on the same Instragrammarist “minimalist” decluttered functional tourist look in order to attract people on Airbnb, and how this in turn is shaping how rooms are “staged” and “made over” in the For Sale pics too.
(* Strictly speaking, the tourist snaps might not start as a meme. But even if one tourist image doesn’t “infect” another directly – in the sense of a meme that’s passed down or culturally transmitted from person to person – it’s as if the very tourist spot or tourist situation itself is an ideal breeding ground for a spontaneous contagion of sorts, for the tendency for each snapper in turn to happen upon or “discover” or uncover or slide into this very same set of visual clichés. Discuss).