Graham Field: Burning out on social media

Travel Influencers: It was a new terminology to me, I had no idea there was this breed of professional ‘travellers’ on Instagram, who post photoshopped pictures of their beautiful selves, their backs to various exotic sites. This is done in order that their multitude of followers actually follow them to the picture-perfect place to replicate their glorified and influencing photo. The influencers make a living by doing this. I have, in the last 12 months become shockingly aware of just how narcissist the smart phone generation have become. The point of travel for the selfie obsessed generation seems solely to get ‘likes’ by standing in front of a ‘likable’ site. Thus, reassuring themselves that their vacuous existence has worth, purpose and meaning.

The ‘followers’ become the ‘influenced’ who offer their virtual support, acceptance and admiration for the two minutes the influencer spent with their back to a prestigious site, whilst posing into the lens. Just below that lens is a screen which is actually capable of informing, with a comprehensive history, the reason and significance of the place they have infested. Further research will reveal the struggling infrastructure in the area, the locals’ concern at being over stretched and over run by tourists. But none of that matters, as long as the same device has photo enhancement capabilities, because aesthetics attracts followers. When their virtual bag of followers overflows, they then market themselves to tour operators and the obedient masses follow.

Thus they make a living, leaving a trail of overpopulated irresponsible tourism behind them. Causing overcrowding within the cities, insufficient accommodation and services. The Air B&B crowd come in, and there is less affordable accommodation for the people who actually live in the place, people who are needed within the service industry that has sprung up to meet the needs the selfie obsessed require when they find they can’t live on likes alone.

Previous epiphanies, when I’ve seen the writing on the wall, at least stay there for a few seasons, and didn’t dissolve into the unscrollable depths of a past posting.

I’ve seen this in Aspen Colorado, a place where no waitress or retailer can afford to live, million dollar houses are bought, levelled and replaced with ten million dollar houses, the twisty mountain access road is permanently crowded not only with visitors and construction trucks but the commute of the permanent shift changes for the 24 hour service industry, that the people of ten million dollar homes demand.

What a wholly horrendous situation and it makes me fear for the planet’s very limited future.

It kept me awake at night and in the darkest hours I saw the bigger picture. Obscene this latest trend may be, it is not new by any means.