Passport! Plane wing out of the window! Bikini selfie (#oohlala)! One of those “take my hand” photos (#blessed)! Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Boba tea! Authentic paella! Authentic pizza! Authentic coconut water, sipped out of a freshly cut authentic coconut, on the authentic beach!
These are just a few of the Instagram travel tropes that are brutally, hilariously, painfully stitched together in the new video short Instravel – A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience. Photographer Oliver Kmia stitched together hundreds of photos from social media, focusing on one common travel photo cliché at a time (like the Eiffel Tower or someone’s legs on a beach). By simply pointing out how many people photograph the same thing, the same way, he highlights the artifice of adventure in the age of Instagram. We’re all actors, posing as set pieces, in a play that’s been performed so many times before.
Kmia was inspired to create the short by his own experience traveling in Rome. “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,” he writes. “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 worse.”
Indeed, it’s exactly this point–that it’s not just the Influencers, but that we’re all complicit in both seeking out these universal travel experiences and sharing them on social media. It’s hilarious, sure, but laughing will only make you feel hypocritical whenever your particular trope is inevitably roasted. And if you’ve ever traveled with Instagram in your pocket–trust me, it will be roasted.
“It kind of made me hate everything,” a colleague wrote after watching. I felt the same way, too. But before you let yourself get too depressed, realize that there is another way to look at all of these nearly identical, deeply unoriginal travel posts that we share: That there’s a reason people from cultures and countries around the globe make the same laborious migration to the same places on Earth, just to momentarily partake in some of the most beautiful, serene, and tasty sights that our planet has to offer. Maybe that means that each of us is less a unique snowflake than we’d like to believe. Okay. But it also means that there are 7.6 billion other people out there who are experiencing wonder of the world right beside you, all the time.