Is Instagram Ruining Backpacker Culture?

Editorial Director, Life
01.12.16 18 Comments

Instagram and travel are inextricably tied. There’s just something about exotic locations that make for Insta magic. I like to imagine Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker in The Social Network saying, “Gazing at a weathered door frame isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Gazing at a weathered door frame in Mozambique.”

Of course, travelers have been experimenting with highly stylized photos of door frames (and their own feet and extreme flower closeups) for generations. But never before have your cousin’s gap year snapshots had the potential of making her famous (or wealthy).

On a recent trip to Colombia, I was struck by the country’s surplus of perfect beaches. On these beaches, groups of friends smiled for photos, just as vagabonding pals have done since the advent of the camera. But after the group shots came solo pictures. These were more practiced — long sessions with one person situated alone near the waterline, posed to highlight their curves. Once the first round was taken, the model would check the photos, talk to the photographer, readjust, fuss over details, and retake.

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