Or, accidental demonstrations of all the ways you really do not want to be traveling.
With Venice mostly underwater the predictable flood of articles about “overtourism” is upon us, making it a good time to reflect on what overtourism is and what it isn’t. Basically, it means overcrowding but the word crowded got a bit too basic for the third-wave ‘influencers’ who are keen on rescuing the world from the predations of the first wave, which hijacked Instagram for the sake of imagined popularity and maybe some useless swag too.
In the end overtourism won’t be the death of Venice—the city is more resilient and in more ways than most people realize. I remember some years ago reading a report in Newsweek (back when Newsweek was influential) that wrote off Boy George, of the group Culture Club, with rare zeal following just one pesky overdose. Fast forward to 2019 and Michael Jackson and Prince are gone but by golly Boy George is making the rounds of Ellen and The View. So there. But look at this:
What is the actual point of taking a selfie of yourself by a nice beach? Who are you tryna impress, and why? Trying to impress people is so ridiculously 1958, and yet…
the madness just continues. It’s terrifying that in a world where everything has already been photographed, people are still pathologically obsessed with taking photos: it’s almost like one section of the human brain has infiltrated the rest, with the unspoken objective of denying and destroying actual human experience in a given locale.
Then there’s that thing where you arrive at an ecologically sensitive area only to find something hideous like this: stack of loungers so high you can barely even see (what’s left of) the sand. Really, really sad. But wait, there’s more:
One of the byproducts of mass tourism or (if you insist) overtourism is the rise of a certain kind of odd and quiet but also quite toxic cultural supremacy. Selfies in Bhutan? Check. Filming yourself skinny-dipping in Piazza San Marco? Yes, if at all possible. Bringing your own cups of noodles into foreign restaurants because the local fare doesn’t work for ya? Sure, because cultural condescension comes with the territory for those who are so bent on trying to impress that they fail to simply experience.
And if you don’t want to experience, should you really be reading any further?