Selfies on social media and how tourists indulge in their influencer fantasies

We think of tourists in the traditional sense as people who travel to experience new things. Tourists look at sights, take photos, and collect souvenirs. This relationship between tourism and tourists is changing.

Some tourists are now primarily motivated by 24-hour access to social media to travel and experience an experience that will look good on the internet. A recent American Express survey found that social media inspired 75% of respondents to travel. Tourists may choose a destination based on a background that’s popular on social media or television to create an Instagram-worthy photo.

The proliferation of social media and the ubiquitousness of smartphone cameras has had a significant impact on tourists’ behavior. It has also led to what is called a “tourist eye.” This creates photos that place the traveler at the forefront rather than the destination.

According to my research, more and more tourists are going to destinations to be seen by other people, both online as well as in person.

Looking for drama

According to studies, tourists choose destinations that are particularly luxurious or dramatic because they have strong social media connections. Dubai, with its high-end shopping and bling culture, is a playground of influencers who are looking for a luxurious backdrop to enhance their celebrity image.

Influencers are flocking to Dubai. Tasfoto/Alamy

Some tourists prefer to take photos of themselves rather than their surroundings. Some tourists choose to perform like mini-celebrities for the camera. They expect and want to be noticed by others.

The Rickshaw Run is a 2,000km race that crosses India. The adventure tourism event encourages the participants to dress up and act eccentrically in order to get noticed. The vehicles that are used to drive tuk-tuks in India, from Kerala up to Darjeeling, have been customized with eye-catching designs. Participants often film themselves and upload the results on social media. The events are incredibly popular and attract a large following. This YouTube video series, created by Rickshaw Run competitors, attracted 3.6m subscribers.

Participating in the Rickshaw Run.

Some of these “performances” by tourists can be controversial. climbing on fragile archaeological sites to find social media content could damage them. Posing in sacred areas for laughs can be offensive. Reduced to backgrounds for social media content, the reducing of cultures can indicate a lack in interest or respect by tourists.

My research shows that narcissism is on the rise in our society. I also connect this to what tourists want from their travels and how they behave when traveling. Tourists may show an increased sense of entitlement or exhibitionism when they take pictures in difficult-to-reach locations, such as off limits areas.

It is argued that selfie culture promotes selfishness rather than social responsibility . Tourists are known to be selfish. They put their own needs and interests before local concerns. It is particularly true for the super-rich. Private jet users account for 50% of global aviation emissions.

Read more: Sustainable tourism needs to be built with the help of locals

However, the desire to promote the individual and their values could be harnessed to promote more sustainable tourism. Those volunteering abroad might be motivated by the image enhancement opportunities of doing good, but they often offer something back to the social and natural environments of their host destinations in the process.

Ecotourism is a way to provide deep and meaningful experiences for travelers. Traveling in an environmentally friendly manner can be a great way to impress others and take selfies.

The pros and cons of the environment of self-obsession by tourists are debatable . Self-obsession is not necessarily good for tourists. According to a study, for example, people’s mental well-being could be affected by the desire to “perform”.

Research shows that unexpected experiences help tourists gain self-awareness. Getting out of your comfort zone can also lead to rewarding growth.

Disconnection between place and self

People who take more selfies may become disconnected from the environment. They could become less involved in the actual travel experience. The increasing number of self-related tourist deaths could be a sign that there is a disconnect between the individual and their environment. According to a report, 259 selfie-related deaths occurred between 2011 and 2017.

Some research indicates that people who want to project a certain image online may be likely to take more risks when taking travel selfies. This could have fatal consequences.

Tourists are always self-obsessed. In the 18th century, wealthy people could indulge in activities that were not socially acceptable at home. Academics were concerned about backpacker communities that did not want to mix with the locals in Southeast Asia at the dawn of the 21st Century.

Smartphones and social media allow tourists to display such a self-indulgent and insensitive tourism style immediately. These tourists are able to travel while looking for the perfect backdrop for a selfie. They can filter and share their travels as they happen and respond to likes and remarks.

This influencer fantasia may be a part of tourism, for better or worse.

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