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Paris's Rue Cremieux Has an Instagram Problem (citylab.com)
153 points by pseudolus 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

I have been toying with the idea that travel is the ultimate expression of selfishness and narcissism. I have a place that's very dear to me that is similarly being eroded by a crush of visitors. They are loud, cause crazy traffic, carve into the natural rock, fall down cliffs and require medical help, etc.

20 years ago, you might have had 3-4 people on a given weekday sunset visiting to see the view. Now, that number is probably approaching 100. On weekends it's a throng of people, almost like standing room only.

It's a beautiful place, and it's inarguable that anyone should be able to see and enjoy it. But really, are most of those people there to see the beauty of the place? Would they be there if not for the opportunity to post it on social media? It's not like this is a hidden spot whose location was revealed by social media. It's a well known natural area. It just didn't get this crowded until it became hip to take photos of yourself in some beautiful place.

And then I realize, this is what people who live in areas with real tourism must feel like, except magnified to nightmarish proportions. Travel contributes greatly to carbon emissions, destroys environments, puts stress on local wildlife and people... just so that someone can have an ~experience~ for themselves.

The thing is, I think most people have a great deal of "interesting-ness" right near home. They just compete globally on Instagram, which requires a plane ride.

I don't hold this opinion, I'm just trying it on for size -- I've traveled to a lot of very beautiful places and had cool experiences, so it'd be hugely hypocritical. But yes, I really dislike the Instagram effect.

> I have a place that's very dear to me that is similarly being eroded by a crush of visitors.

But why is you visiting it okay, but others not? It's like being stuck in traffic and hating on other drivers. In the article's case, it's their homes, so I can see it being annoying. But for landmarks that get popular, I don't see how one is justified in hating on other people going there. It's just a tragedy of the commons.

I also dislike how Barcelona and others are handling the problem. Taking tourists' money and harassing them.

I say this as someone who grew up in a mountain resort. Yes, it is annoying during winter when people flood to "my nature" and "my ski spots". But if it weren't for those people, my family or no one else would live there as there wouldn't be any jobs. So then it wouldn't be "mine" anyways.

You’re right, of course. I grew up nearby and spent many summers there as a kid, that’s why I have some connection. But the place is not mine.

The reason I brought it up in the first place is because only within the last 10 years has it really gotten “bad” — completely because of instagram.

you're on to something, but are missing an important part of the equation

instagram influencing is now a business. it's advertising without the clear disclaimers or statements for who is paying for that advertising and why

a lot of this advertising requires traveling to cool/famous/chic/rugged locations and taking photos or videos there, so that followers feel they are also there, and get to see a cool place through the eyes of their "friends"

it's more than just social points gamification, it's a business, it's advertising with real money involved, and these natural settings are becoming the new ad studios that it's cool to shoot in (besides places like venice beach and rue cremieux)

and when businesses/money get involved, the natural respect for the environment/others using the space disintegrates in the face of profit and time maximization

Blaming a website (I don't use Instagram and I am not a fan of it) for people's generally shitty behavior is stretching it, don't you think? It is absolutely possible to travel respectfully (one can't avoid the plane ride, other than that, sure) - respecting the local people, landmarks, wildlife etc. But many travelers lack this basic decency and common sense - even if Instagram died today, these people would continue to behave the same.

Instagram is in some sense just a label for the greater phenomenon.

I don't think you can blame instagram. These problems are happening all over the world, and I doubt that many of the tourists actually use instagram.

I suspect cheap flights and accommodation, changes in fashion (city breaks vs package holidays), more disposable income and free time are all contributing.

I think any solution needs to be better than “ it was okay when only rich people could do it, but became a problem when poorer people could do it too”

They were describing an alternate explanation of the cause of the problem, not a solution. And yes, an activity can go from being not a problem to a problem when poor people start do it because there are a lot more poor people than rich people. 1000 people doing something will cause a lot more wear and tear than 10 people. Also, with greater numbers, there's a greater chance of one of them being a thoughtless jerk who causes harm.

You're making it a class problem when nobody here has mentioned class.

Cheap flights and accommodations were mentioned.

Flying is an unusual product that gets cheaper over time. Supply has increased.

Airbnb has had an impact on hotel pricing and availability.

Almost every product gets cheaper over time.

Inflation says otherwise.

Inflation does not change the real cost of goods and services, only the nominal cost.

And the costs of flying and accommodation have actually gone down in real terms.

That's not true outside of theoretical context, much like the concept of efficient markets. In reality, inflation does change the relative real costs due to the mechanism by which inflationary monetary policy is implemented: debt. Products that rely heavily on debt (construction, airlines, etc.) will be affected by inflation differently from products that use little of it (technology, fashion, food service, etc.)

That's an interesting, but unusual perspective.

It's commonly understood that not all prices change in lock step, but "inflation" is the general or aggregate change in prices, usually based on the change in the purchasing power of money. Choosing to finance or pay cash for a car or a house doesn't change the price of the item, just your cost of acquiring it - it exposes you to expected future inflation, in addition to the current price, because you will be paying back the incurred debt with less-valuable future dollars. The interest you pay also pays for the use of someone else's money for the period of the debt.

Note, too, that inflationary monetary policy is also implemented by creating money in other ways, like a printing press, and inflation can also be caused by supply/demand shocks, like changes in supply/demand of fundamental commodities, like oil.

I just don't think this is true. I mean, I see your point, but it just doesn't seem to be that significant in practice. Possibly because the interest you get at a bank has inflation priced in. In reality, more or less everything is getting cheaper in real terms. There are some exceptions, like housing (urban land), and services (people's time) but these are exceptions.

Yes, this has been happening the last 100 years or so, to different locations over the world. There is always something that gets noticed on TV or whatever channel exists att he time. And then some entrepreneur uses the hype to make trips with tourists to this location.

Just an example: https://www.slice.ca/travel/photos/most-popular-travel-spots...

Yes, this has been happening the last 100 years or so

A lot longer than that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Tour

I'm from Barcelona, I don't see how anybody is harassing the tourists or how the city is taking their money (touristic fees/tax exist in most of the cities). If you are annoyed for some words on a wall... well, then you should learn a bit about gentrification and understand why are they there.

I visit Barcelona quite often for work, but do try and visit the local area while I'm there and do 'touristy' things. I've had, on three separate occasions, groups of men harass and shout profanities at me, telling me to f- off back home, or calling me a filthy tourist; once going as far to follow me around jeering while I was taking photos, trying to intimidate me and forcing me back into the more populated areas.

I'm not surprised you don't see how anybody is harassing tourists; you're a local so you don't get harassed. That's doesn't mean it's not an issue.

I'm used to be with tourists here and most of my friends here are from other countries and we are all the time speaking in English and doing these "touristy things". It never happened to me or my friends. Can I ask where did that happen?

What should I learn about gentrification to understand "TOURISTS FUCK OFF"?

That those airbnb many people get are kicking out the families off their neighborhoods, that tourists are being the priority instead of the citizens, that that type of economy is just erasing local businesses -created for daily life and not for a weekend holidays-, that it's degrading the quality of life of those who live there... Las Ramblas were once a place for the people of the city. Most of young people now can't name a single spot there that is useful there for someone who lives in Barcelona. I could continue but if you try to look at the future seeing what happened in the last 10-15 years, you can see Barcelona turning into a theme park instead of a city. Being controlled by external economy does no good to anybody anywhere, and that's why you can read "tourists fuck off" in some walls. If you travel you should be aware of the type of tourism you're going to practice and the consequences for the area you're visiting.

Locals should be attacking the landowners sucking money out of the economy, not the visitors pumping money into it.

They do too. Is not as simple as having money or not, the social fabric is the base of healthy neighborhoods and tourism is really invasive against that matter. I said a bunch of reasons there. The visitors should be aware of that. Why would we want to have more money if we don't have a place to live that we can call home? Or if those who are "pumping money" are making our life's more expensive while our salaries remain the same? I don't think you are addressing the problem from the vision of someone suffering the gentrification.

I've experienced the same experiences as those mentioned above in Barcelona. You clearly agree with those terrorizing tourists out of some misguided blame.

The reality is that the rich Spanish sold the rest of you out for a quick buck. That's why there aren't any good jobs and any reason to stay. Those that stay whine and complain. Yet every Spaniard I've talked to in northern Europe talks openly about the whining and the lack of desire to get to the root of the problem or take responsibility.

I have a good job and most of my friends do now, the weather is nice, my family is here... There are many reasons to stay in my situation. In my opinion going to northern Europe sounds way more like avoiding the problem rather than taking any responsibility.

just as a semi related matter of curiosity, what is the local's perception of skateboarders there? is it a source of annoyance to live in a skate-mecca or are people basically ok with it?

I personally love skate and I haven't seen many people protesting against it. Skateboarders use to be pretty nice, they move around in some areas that are used to them -or even prepared for them-, and also there are some other problems related to transport as the new scooters, the public spaces for bicycles, taxi vs uber, etc... that I feel more people are concerned about right now. It probably used to be a bigger thing, when the big crews of skaters started to come 10 years ago, but I never saw a neighborhood trying to kick them off! (which doesn't means that it never happened) What I saw it happened was the opposite, like in Nou Barris where the neighborhood maintained a DIY skatepark -that now is amazing, finally paid by the city hall- for 20 years and made it a symbol of social protest/resistance.


"very rude locals that refuse to speak in english" ... say that again, but slowly.

They are Spanish. They live in Spain. They speak either Spanish or Catalan and have no obligation to speak English to you. It's "very rude" of you to not try learn some basic Spanish.

I'm native English and live in Poland. My interactions with Poles (who mostly speak English and are happy to do try) are vastly different if they can see I am trying also: starting the conversation in Polish before transitioning to English is a much warmer experience than just starting with English from the beginning.

It's the same in Spain as well. Start with "hola" or "buenos dias" and then something like "podemos hablar Ingles?" or "perdon, no hablo Espanol" and suddenly 99% of these "very rude locals" will be incredibly friendly to you.

You don't need to, and most don't expect, that you can fluently speak to them in the local language. But they do expect that you respect them enough to try.

This is a funny comment. It comes across like a satirical "typical privileged American" silicon valley-esque comment. Is Uber now somehow the mark of a progressive society? Most cities, particularly tourist destination, have old shops selling trinkets, antiques, and other items that can be a lot of fun. Many airbnbs are technically illegal and detrimental to the local community, so again, not sure how this demonstrates Barcelona being "extremely regressive" by fining them. Then the icing on top of the cake, you are upset that the locals refuse to speak in English... in their own country... where English isn't the native language. You sound exactly like the kind of tourist these people want to keep away

I’m not quite sure that random tourists and Airbnb guests bring more value to a city than the actual people that have been living there for generations.

Many people don't have the privilege to travel at all, so there should be some benefits for locals.

Pedantic, but travelling is not a privilege (assuming, of course, that we're talking about most people from most countries). Some people don't have the resources to travel, but they are not otherwise prohibited from doing so.

> I have been toying with the idea that travel is the ultimate expression of selfishness and narcissism.

travel isn't the problem. People experiencing their lives via the lens of their phone/camera is. Take pictures by all means. But taking pictures to get likes from strangers in order to experience it as a valuable memory is pathological.

Edit: I hate to bring my phone with me when in nature because I feel it robs me of the experience I could have actually enjoying the moment. My ex always complained "why you never take pictures of these special moments?" ... If I would have my eyes on the phone it wouldn't be special. 10 or 20 years later I still have rich memories of those times where it mattered and I guess not having a phone/camera with me at the time was big part that it actually became a great memory.

> "why you never take pictures of these special moments?" ... If I would have my eyes on the phone it wouldn't be special. 10 or 20 years later I still have rich memories of those times where it mattered and I guess not having a phone/camera with me at the time was big part that it actually became a great memory.

For me it is in the other direction. I do not avoid social media (think I am on most on them...) but interact sparingly (less than once a month). Still I am sometimes an obsessive photographer exactly because I know I have a terrible memory.

I reckon it's a bit of both. As the internet allows people to share information about "special places," more people will travel there. I see this all the time with rock climbing--areas get more publicity, and climbers flock there, and there are real impacts because of increased traffic. I guess that is tangentially related to more social media posts, but there are also just more people climbing now than there has been in the past.

It's not just you, taking photos of something can impair your actual memory of the moment itself https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221136811...

thanks for that link!!

Wife asks the same to me. I say her that she, and seems that also most people, don't go places with the primary objective of just visiting them. Their primary objective is to take pictures.

Instagram is replacing the guide book. And because people are more digitally connected, a lot of their storytelling has become visual and so visually remarkable sights have grown in popularity. I can't see it going away anytime soon - my state tourism authority uses social media as a key tool in their efforts.

This weekend just been, I was flown to a location by said authority, given a car for four days and basically set loose to photograph whatever interested me. (I shoot with a drone.)

Anyway, at the first of the two fixed experiences of the weekend (an oyster farm), I was sitting near two girls who had driven 700km for a weekend in this location all because they'd seen a girl's photograph on Instagram, shared by the authority. Coincidentally, that girl was seated five metres from them and also in the area shooting for the tourism authority because of how powerful social is now. The authority chaperone was right there in the middle to witness the power of her daily work.

For anyone who cares, this is my work: https://www.instagram.com/__serio__/

This is the shot the girls had seen: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs2aWsbHxT0/

I imagine the average HN user imagines these "travel couples" to be particularly obnoxious and I'm sure some are (like any subset of people), but this couple were very genuine and great people. Like me, they get out there because one hobby is photography; just a bit different to that of the typical landscape photographer.

No where we shot that weekend was anywhere near crowded. I almost always had miles and miles of pristine beach to myself. At this location, there would've been no one on that beach for 3-5 km in either direction, just 15+ dolphins playing in the waves.


>No where we shot that weekend was anywhere near crowded. I almost always had miles and miles of pristine beach to myself. At this location, there would've been no one on that beach for 3-5 km in either direction, just 15+ dolphins playing in the waves.

Isn't this point a little disingenuous when you live in a country that's almost the size of USA or Europe, but only has 25 million inhabitants, and people from other countries have to travel far to get there?

It wasn't a point, more a clarification that this area is not quite on the same level of tourism as someone living with it in Western Europe, Thailand, etc. I was adding real world experience that it's not just social-media-is-the-new-guide-book, but that tourism authorities are actively pushing it too.

(Can't edit my earlier comment, but the italics were from an asterisk/footnote rather than intended emphasis.)

Not really. There are plenty of areas of Australia that are thoroughly clogged with tourists, especially from Asia, which isn't so far to travel.

> No where we shot that weekend was anywhere near crowded

Then the photography hasn't done its job yet. Will you like that beach more when it looks like this?


Funnily enough the beach is called Avoid Bay. I had to track down that location via satellite maps and then walk 1km+ through scrub on kangaroo trails to get to the beach. Any 4WD evidence in the area looked to be very old and long-since blocked off. I'd guess maybe any other access had been by boat, but even then, most people would probably head to more accessible and just as attractive beaches instead.

Everyone has a right to experience it, and I had the same experience or close to it on countless beaches in that area. We'd need a lot more people visiting before it got to even a hundredth of Bondi.

Any touristed location will reach an equilibrium with its crowds. There's always an alternative for those not keen on the hordes. Go to Simitai instead of Badaling. The Louvre has countless alternatives to the Mona Lisa's room. The Grand Canyon has dozens of vantages. You don't have to walk far from the central area of Zion National Park to have expanses to yourself.

Some people take yet another photo of a popular attraction. Others visit an online discussion and throw another viewpoint into the maelstrom as though it achieves much of consequence. Each to their own.

> I have been toying with the idea that travel is the ultimate expression of selfishness and narcissism.

As far as I understand, you don't own the place. From my perspective, you are more selfish than these people. You don't want people to access public property because it "inconveniences" you? Seriously, what is wrong with the world.

The reason people didn't visit your place before because internet didn't make it popular enough and transportation wasn't that good. The fact that you were there first or had memories of it being empty doesn't make you own it (and thank god for that).

ps: I used to live in a very nice part of the city. I ended up moving because the outsiders "wrecked" it. But it is fair. I only rented an apartment and the nearby small mountain and sea was public property.

The thought is more like, if everyone goes to the city park nearest them, each city park can bear the traffic. If everyone around the world visits just this one city park, it becomes unsustainable.

So nobody owns anything, or has exclusive right, but when each area is used mostly by the respective locals, it's more sustainable all the way around. That's the tension.

To take a counter view, you could argue that not travelling is the ultimate expression of narcissism. An unwillingness to see beyond your own small environment, to expose yourself to different views/culture/people.

A 5 to 10 day jaunt to other major cities or developed countries that you spend in a Hilton/Marriot/Hyatt, ride in Uber/Lyfts, and take selfies to put on instagram/snapchat all the while not speaking to anyone outside of the staff you communicate with at the hotel/restaurant is not exposing one's self to different views/culture/people.

And I think that's what the original commenter was alluding to.

The more I traveled and experienced other cultures, the more I realized people are the same everywhere.

Sounds like it was worth it then!

I think there's a distinction to be made between travel as accumulating social capital masquerading as "experiences" and travel as seeking genuinely novel experiences. It's the same difference between going to Instagrammable restaurants and seeking out places that have legitimately good food. Then again, I don't think this distinction is new. There's always been a dichotomy between people who travel like an RPG where they have to see X monument and have Y experience in order to tell their friends about it, and people who come in open minded.

Yes and no. Before instagram you had tourist guides (books). If a major guide mentions a location as lovely and must seen, you will have hordes of tourists raiding the area, often to just take a quick picture and mark a notch next to the entry.

Like I just don’t get people going to the Trevi fountain in Rome. The place is so crowded that all they get is pushing their way to a tight spot where they can see some of the horses, take the same picture than the first 1,000,000 results on google image and then push their way out. What’s the experience?

The choice is - don't see it or see it in a slightly less than optimal way. It's an amazing fountain, it's different than anything at home for many visitors, and it's super easy to get to.

One could just as easily say this about the Sistine Chapel.

And yet most people who go there still regard the experience as profound.

This is a false dichotomy. When I travel to new places, I like to see the standard tourist stuff, but I also like to walk the back alleys and go "off the beaten path". I'm not unique in this either.

The gatekeeping people have around the right kind of travel is amazing.

Hire 2 fat guys to stand around shirtless drinking beers to ruin the photos. Eventually the tourists will slow down.

Also, that place was not yours. Yeah, it sucks that you can't get 100% pleasure out of it because 1000 people are getting 5% of pleasure out of it...so maybe find a new spot? There isn't a shortage of wild places out there

>Hire 2 fat guys to stand around shirtless drinking beers to ruin the photos. Eventually the tourists will slow down.

I'll take a photo with them - it'd be 3 fat guys standing around shirtless drinking beers. :')

Eventually the tourists will slow down

Either that or getting your photo with shirtless fat guys becomes the new point of the exercise (with people getting more likes the fatter the guys).

A european, gym-free version of the naked cowboy in NY.

For local attractions like that what municipalities can do is set access for locals as free and access to out of town tourists at some price.

Foot traffic will degrade natural sites, with the fees they can better take care of these sites and ensure they don’t become overrun.

Bhutan has an interesting system for foreign tourists, they have a visa cap as well as a hefty visa fee. It’s one way to dampen demand to more sustainable levels.

Historically tourism has been very bourgeois, now it’s become ‘democratized’ bug that has untaxed externalities.

> just so that someone can have an ~experience~

What is life if not an accumulation of experience?

Yes, I mean, that's almost my point. I think for a big portion of the people I see in that throng of 100, the experience of going someplace, joining the crowd, getting in line for the photo angle that trends best on Instagram, then packing up and going home -- is actually a pretty mediocre experience, not a beautiful one. They'd be better off enjoying a quiet moment in their front garden.

That’s not really for you to say, is it? Even assuming they’d agree with your cynical characterization, which is doubtful.

I'm really sympathetic to this, and I'll try to explain why:

It's not technically yours, sure, not in any sort of legal sense, but your cultural and historical connection to it is meaningful. Your SENSE of ownership over it wouldn't hold up in court, but that doesn't mean it's immaterial. It doesn't afford you the right to kick people out, but it does excuse some frustration over the crowd, and a sense that maybe they're not as entitled to it as the locals are.

No, no one can tell those people to leave. But I think tourists have a serious responsibility to consider how their presence impacts the area.

But there's a tension there, of course. It's selfish to hoard and hide things like this, and the world has a lot of wonderful things in it. But I think I'm more sympathetic to locals than I am tourists.

More broadly, the elevation of travel to a spiritual practice is a big time lie. I don't doubt it has some benefit but it's moral and spiritual inflation is similar to people's attitudes about aesthetic appreciation--you can be a shitbag and have good taste. You can be an utter bastard and be well-traveled.

> I have been toying with the idea that travel is the ultimate expression of selfishness and narcissism.

Really? Because although I may not have travelled much, I can't say it's ever been "about me". Quite the opposite. For me travelling is about where I'm going, what I'm experiencing, who I'm meeting. I think your applying your perception of a subset of travellers on the body at large.

One question I wonder that I don't quite know how to answer- perhaps the important part is how does tourism compare to the other hobbies people might engage in to fill their time. It's probably worse than intramural sports, but how does it compare to automobile racing or what have you. Or, how does modern tourism compare to tourism of ages past- is ten thousand people taking a photograph better or worse than a couple British guys shooting a lion?

You could also speculate about much harder to prove thesis. For example, if travel & "global citizenship" helps avoid a great war, that's quite a lot of damage & destruction averted.

From a carbon footprint standpoint, international travel is about as "bad" as you can get.

From a social media narcissism eating the world standpoint, it's also pretty bad to be spending thousands of dollars to travel somewhere just to shoot an instagram shot and hope for likes (imho).

Cruise ships are worse than planes, although maybe that would also be considered international travel. There's a lot more focus on getting drunk on a boat though.

I agree with you up to the point of claiming that having experiences is not a worthy reason to travel. The issue in this article is that people aren't attempting to 'experience' Rue Cremieux but instead to picture it and make it their own. The first is a complicated and respectful process whereas the second does not require understanding or compassion.

I'm with you 100%. Try visiting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. The room is packed and everyone's taking selfies with the painting as a background. It's beyond ridiculous...

Until you said "sunset", I was almost certain you were referring to Wedding Cake Rock, a similar victim of new-found Instagram popularity. That's in the town where I grew up, which is often ruined by tourists. I don't know what it is about group dynamics, but as I perceive it (and it may be confirmation bias), large groups of tourists do far more damage (especially littering) than if the same number of people had visited individually.

Funny how the whole thing with traveling evolved over time. 10 years ago, traveling was that hype thing that everyone needed to do a lot to be more "open and inclusive" and "discover the world".

As another comment said before, travel nowadays tends to become that super selfish adventure where the only things that matter is to come back with the best selfies and brag on social networks about how cool it all was. It is not like that for everyone of course, but I have the feeling for a lot of people traveling means going to somewhere famous to get a stupid Instagram shot, with zero concerns for other people or the environment.

Maybe that like everything else, traveling became too easy which started a race to the bottom for attention and pushing people to do more and more stupid and selfish things to be seen.

> 10 years ago, traveling was that hype thing that everyone needed to do a lot to be more "open and inclusive" ... travel nowadays tends to become that super selfish adventure where the only things that matter is to come back with the best selfies

Traveling is still extremely important to personal development. The current development does not negate the importance of the first. It's like saying reading books is no longer important because everyone today just reads facebook posts.

I was privileged enough in my life that I traveled a lot over the last 15 years. I really feel it is more and more difficult to have a genuine experience sometimes because of all the tourist crowds behaving horribly.

So, yes, it is definitely still possible to go to a remote location in Asia and be exposed to a different culture, but if you go to any major city, you will mostly end up in a hostel with loud millenials that don't really care about anything else than maximizing their own experience.

If you're in any major city you can almost certainly go 30 minutes in the opposite directions the tourists are going and be exposed to a different culture or find a quite oasis. No need to go to Asia.

Exactly. You can always choose to walk around, or take public transport, and find things at your own pace.

Or you can watch documentaries to learn about foreign cultures. But anyone can do that. The true marks of a refined and worldly character are taking expensive trips to foreign resorts that only better people can afford.

According to whom? An authentic experience with locals is far more worldly in my book than dozens of nights spent in a 5-star hotel bubble of luxury.

I think you missed the sarcasm in your parent comment.

Hostels have always been filled with young people and young people have always been self-centered and oblivious. If you don't want to be around that, pay more and don't stay in a hostel.

It's not an age thing. Wealth people in fancy hotels are more of a disruption, as the tourism economy displaces the local culture.

I was responding specifically to warp_factor's complaint.

> if you go to any major city, you will mostly end up in a hostel with loud millenials that don't really care about anything

Interesting, I tend to think the opposite. Often it's the tropical beach resorts that cater western amenities and mindless hedonism. Cities tend to bring a conglomeration of the country's culture together, and they offer far more non-hostel/traveler places to stay/eat.

If you go where everyone else is going, and the "top 10 places to visit in <X area>", then sure. But I'd wager most places still have interesting things if you head away from where most tourists go, or simply visit a close by city instead if it's a -really- famous tourist destination like Rome.

No remote trip to Asia is necessary, unless you want to go there!

Living somewhere different is wholely different character from racing from photo op to photo op and never leaving the mulinational corporate bubble of popular destination amenities.

> 10 years ago, traveling was that hype thing that everyone neede

oh honey, it wasn't 10 years ago -- it was when you and your friends were 10 years younger. The post-adolescent wanderlust continues to cast its spell as it did 20, 30 years ago..

People used to come back from trips with obnoxiously long slideshows (physical slides) that you'd sit thru, because there was nothing better to look at.

even 10 years ago, it was impossible to get around d.c. without having to stumble through the reams of tourists scrambling to get their photo-op at every monument. i think the culture of personal brands has simply expanded what those same people perceive as monuments and things that would've been stumbled upon by a handful have become must visit sites even though they were never designed to deal with that kind of traffic. travel is still an incredibly powerful thing but the experience is only as valuable as what you do with it.

I think you may need to increase that 10 year mark to 15 :p

I actually think tourist-y photography reduces the experience of traveling. I realize for someone deep into photogrphy it may be the opposite.

I remember going to Tanzania for a safari with my dad when he turned 50. It was amazing and everyone wanted to document everything. This was 2007 so no Ig.

At some point I realized that staring at my viewfinder is a bit less immersive than actually looking, smelling and feeling your surroundings. Even the mental state of looking for frames or photogenic objects oriented me towards thinking about when I'm no longer here, showing stuff to my friends.

I also don't take photographs when we're traveling. Unless I see my wife looking particularly charming or the mood strikes me, I just wander around and look at things.

What I've found is that since EVERYTHING is photographed all the time and I'm constantly exposed to them, most of these spots to visit are anticlimactic in the extreme. St Paul's Cathedral? Meh. I've seen everything in it from every angle shot by professional photographers that have been given access that I'll never have. Every beach we visit, every set of mountains we hit, I've seen photographed and captured at its most perfect. My random Sunday afternoon visit will never live up to it. I still find some enjoyment in it but most of the joy of a new discovery has been sapped away.

I would probably count as "opposite", one of my favorite parts of traveling is stalking wild birds. A supertele lens gets you a better view than the naked eye, and to get a good photo you have to watch your subject for a while, which teaches you about their behavior in ways you wouldn't notice just walking by.

I find I'm the opposite. Wanting to photograph things makes me _more_ aware of my surroundings, and take them in more.

>> It might seem curmudgeonly to take issue with what is mostly harmless fun, but Rue Crémieux is not the sort of place that can be all things to all people.

Well, what's harmless fun when one person does it becomes an ecological catastrophe when ten thousand people get wind of it and want a piece of the fun, too.

I get that people want to get to a nice place. So do I. But when we get there, and find another ten thousand people who had exactly the same idea, it's not a nice place anymore. So why does everyone insist on going where everyone else goes?

I'm Greek and I've seen this first hand in our islands, that are tourist magnets. I once made the mistake of going for a couple days to Santorini in the middle of the summer. Never again. Such were the throngs of people trying to get to town that it took us half an hour to advance, shuffling and bumping on warm human bodies, a distance of a hundred meters or so. I learned to spend my summers in Athens, where it was calm and quiet with everyone gone. You could set up a nice game of football in any of the main traffic arteries if you were so inclined.

Even Athens city, one of the ugliest places on earth, becomes almost pleasant when you have it all to yourself.

The situation has been the same at the Abbey Road crossing for a long time.


You usually only have to watch for a few minutes to see people stopping traffic for a picture. I just saw a group from only a minute of watching!

Minutes? Instantly upon opening that link.

Utter pillocks crossing, than turning around to recross the crossing (and again, and again). Oblivious ninnies stepping out onto the carriage way with their attention focussed on some or other device in their hands to photograph the aforementioned pillocks, and Londoners seemingly used to them going about their business.

Instagram also changes/destroy the landscape, as explained here : https://youtu.be/Itjc14Fm-gs It's incredible what people would do for likes...

Seeing railings put up on previously pristine cliffs to protect idiots from killing themselves taking selfies is infuriating.

I've lived in Paris for two years and before that I was in the suburbs and I've never heard (or seen) that street. Funny how bubbles work.

Born and raised in Paris, lived there all my life, and never been in that street nor did i know about it either.

But that’s not so surprising. Local people usually don’t explore as much as tourists. They have their daily routines and eventually go to places for a reason. I actually often ask a non french friend of mine to bring me to new places because she still kept that explorer mentality. She knows Paris better than i do in some ways.

I think it's sad... I've lived in Paris for the last 15 years and have explored a lot of the city (but still have a lot to see). I remember a colleague, born and raised in the western suburbs, who saw the Opera for the first time the other day when he had to walk to the office because the metro from Saint-Lazare was out of order.

suburb vs Paris is also something else. I had the exact same experience two times: once with the opera , and another with montmartre’s sacré coeur ( she didn’t even know what that was, she just told me « that’s nice, what is it ? »). I was in a bit of a shock.

I've lived 8 years 200m away, never heard of it before.

I won’t claim to be a Paris expert but I have spent a bit of time there as a tourist. Never heard of it either and I stayed just a few blocks from there four years or so ago.

I’m a frequent visitor to Paris, but coming from an upbringing with streets on grids, I’ve given up on learning any of them in European cities.

Basically the same and, well, now I want to go ;)

I don't have an Instagram account though...

I imagine Rue Cremieux had this problem before, just less pronounced. Even more interesting when Instagram _creates_ the buzz for the places not visited much, if at all, before, e.g. sunflower farms announcing it is cloed to visitors, forever: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-how-the-quest...

>"When someone says they’re addicted to travel, at least I know they’ve never been addicted to anything or known anyone with an addiction, and, unrelated, are probably as insufferable as the budding astrologers." [0]

This is from a brilliantly honest and short essay about the Tinder culture and its impact on the author. Well worth a read.

[0] http://www.stilldrinking.com/this-is-not-about-tinder

Not Instagram, but in the same vein I always wonder when Google Maps takes me through seemingly quiet/random streets --through a path probably determined by the algorithm to be fastest but which I otherwise would've never driven through--, I wonder how much that affects the street residents and whether it can ruin a stretch of town, just because it happens to be on the path to a popular destination.

Does anyone have anecdotes on this?

There was this story from awhile back: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/traffic-weary-homeowner.... Below is the key part:

> When the traffic on Timothy Connor’s quiet Maryland street suddenly jumped by several hundred cars an hour, he knew who was partly to blame: the disembodied female voice he could hear through the occasional open window saying, “Continue on Elm Avenue . . . .”

> The marked detour around a months-long road repair was several blocks away. But plenty of drivers were finding a shortcut past Connor’s Takoma Park house, slaloming around dog walkers and curbside basketball hoops, thanks to Waze and other navigation apps.

> “I could see them looking down at their phones,” said Connor, a water engineer at a federal agency. “We had traffic jams, people were honking. It was pretty harrowing.”

> And so Connor borrowed a tactic he read about from the car wars of Southern California and other traffic-weary regions: He became a Waze impostor. Every rush hour, he went on the Google-owned social-media app and posted false reports of a wreck, speed trap or other blockage on his street, hoping to deflect some of the flow.

> He continued his guerrilla counterattack for two weeks before the app booted him off, apparently detecting a saboteur in its ranks. That made Connor a casualty in the social-media skirmishes erupting across the country as neighborhoods try to contend with suddenly savvy drivers finding their way on routes that were once all but secret.

If we have figured out how to get thousands of people to show up at a particular spot, to all take the same pic, shouldn't it be possible to get thousands of people to show up at a spot to do something more productive?

We need "Herd Hackers". The herd mind needs a good kick in the right direction once in a while.

Get the Fyre festival guys on it. If what they did wasn't 'herd hacking' I don't know what is.

Let’s get a bunch of instagramers together and solve those freaking millennium prize problems once and for all.

Just set up a chromakey at a strip mall.

Charge users $24.95/month to take more selfies with new backgrounds.

“Sell” the franchise for $199/month to anyone that wants to set one up.

$499/month for the enterprise plan (twice the features for half the stability).

We had that feature in the first version of the webcam software. (1995 or so...). It was used to pull lots of pranks because all it took was a blue towel for you to appear somewhere that you weren't. If you scrounge around you might still find it on freeware websites, webcam.exe by TrueTech.

I too have read 'we can remember it for you wholesale'

I haven’t, but my brother probably has.

I blame him for contaminating my mind with all of these concepts.

And I suppose it's very convenient you happen to know the right direction...

The whole world has an instagram problem. The biggest annoyance to me is people who basically just go to places to be able to send you proof that they've been there. The epitome of that is people who will travel to some exotic place for New Years Eve just so they can send you a Happy New Year text adding 'from Zanzibar' or wherever they've decided to park their suitcase for that one evening.

I don't think the tool is the problem. We just have more people, flights are cheaper, and younger generations value experiences more than buying property and starting families. People used to send postcards, now it's digital.

Sending postcards to a few friends isn't the same thing as immediately broadcasting them to millions of people in seek of points on a gamified bragging platform.

Rue Cremieux doesn't have an Instagram problem: rue Cremieux chose to be unique, and preserve that uniqueness. The popularity is deserved, and I think this "Instagram problem" story is part of the marketing around it.

Everything that stands out, that is remarquable, attracts attention and curiosity, that's what to expect. If you don't want that, don't make yourself stand out.

Most of what is seen in Instagram about this street is not "attention or curiosity", but narcissism and exploitation.


nature landmarks damaged by unmanaged tourism, now countries are looking at limiting tourism.


don't put such a narrow view point into public space. you sound like you wish for celebs to not have any privacy, just because of their popularity.

A little bit different but still, as with all movie locations, someone sets a movie at some place, someone at local gov (or owner) gave the authorisation, expect then that a lot people are going to go there. Same with a lot of famous movie places/houses/...

I'd say that the opposite idea would be more something like Abbey Road's Beatle picture: that one likely didn't have planning/authorisation, but changed the place for a long long time.

The particular street has obviously been attractive for a while. And Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world (if not the most).

So what has changed here? Has the instagrammability of this street led to more people visiting it? Or has the need and desire to photograph and broadcast your entire trip led to people taking more choreographed and more elaborate photos?

If it’s the former, then the issue appears to be that Instagram has changed tourist preferences. If it’s the latter, then it appears to have changed not just preferences, but behavior, where tourists don’t visit a place to enjoy their visit, but rather to broadcast that they have visited it.

I suppose in a world without Instagram, people would just walk through the street and enjoy it, maybe take a few pics to show during their "My trip to France" slideshow for friends and family in their living room, but with Instagram, it's morons jumping up and down dancing and doing silly poses.

> So what has changed here? Has the instagrammability of this street led to more people visiting it?

That's exactly it, Instagram ""influencers"" posted pictures on that street and it created a marketing effect which brought all those people there.

Bourbon Street in New Orleans is classic behavior changing. When I lived there, locals mostly avoided it. But from what I’ve seen on visits since then, even pre-smartphones and social media it became even more a street for tourists acting like they thought they were “supposed” to act on Bourbon Street.

I’ve often struggled with the question of what does it mean to visit a place. Does it mean take pictures, walk the streets, talk to locals? What qualifies as a visit?

If I stay inside someone’s home for a week spending time with them but not leaving the house, does that count as visiting that city/state/country?

What about if I walk the streets for 3 days but don’t talk to anyone local?

Do I need to spend money? Do I need to visit tourist sites? Do I need to visit a museum?

I like to record memories but I don’t post or tweet or gram. Does that mean I’m visiting? Or not visiting?

While less of a nuisance, growing up in sf, the Full House house became my barometer for tourist-levels.

I never watched the show, so when people asked me for directions I used to assume they meant the painted ladies.

Gradually I realized I was wrong: Nowadays, more often than not, there's a line of people waiting out front to pose and cars double parked.

Apparently the remodeling is explicitly to change its appearance in order that people will stop.

I've heard similar stories for the Mrs. Doubtfire house.

my favourite example of this is;


rock stacking, used in the mountains to mark a safe path, and used by idiots to be ~hip~ on IG.

it causes a real stress on local resources and causes aggravated erosion.

i have travelled alot, but dear god i hate the american/western style of doing it.

I hate that so much. Cairns as trail markers are fine but people who leave rock stacks all over the place are a scourge.

If you want to stack rocks that's fine. Just make sure you put the stones back when you're done.

i know, i don't understand it. it's like people who carve their names into rocks/trees.

damaging a shared resource so you can feel like your name will preserve, is the highest level of narcissism.

Paris needs more pedestrian (and coloured) streets.

At first, I thought this was the neighborhood near me with cobblestone streets and small houses near me. Glad to see it’s not and that lovely neighborhood is still unknown and unspoilt.

Won’t list it here, it’s in the 19th. ;-)

Couldn't the residents paint the houses more boring colors, reducing demand to visit the street?

Seems like a straightforward problem with the solution suggested by the street occupants also being straightforward.

Though I loathe Instagram-tourism, it's existence isn't exceptionally problematic to these places. It's just one factor amongst many.

Most touristic places suffer from this.

If you go to Nice after june, the streets are a terrible place to be.

If you go to the Mont Saint michel in the summer, same.

Venice in Italia is like that during the whole year.

Living in those places make you hate tourists, even when you make money with it.

Venice in Italia is like that during the whole year.

I was in Venice in mid-September a few years ago and it wasn't bad at all. Even places like the Piazza San Marco weren't really crowded. Go a few hundred meters away from the main attractions and the streets where empty. The only crowds we really saw where a few hours one day when a cruise ship showed up.

The suburban answer to this would be to turn on your front lawn sprinklers. No confrontation is necessary and the passers-by are gently moved along.

The deeper issue is that the shift from "being" to "having", and "having" to "appearing" never slowed down since it was first theorised. Instagram doesn't serve any purpose other than fulfilling narcissistic people and people in need of exterior approval, and, even worse, it does it in a self reinforcing way. It’s the epitome of individualism. The few social aspects that I'm reluctant to even give to Facebook aren't on ig at all.

It is quite the invention, it both feeds on and nourishes the worst traits of the human brain. Everyone is against these vile dystopian societies described in so many books, all the while the seeds of these societies have been planted during our lifetime and we’re all watering and cherishing them.

Travel used to be about the journey just as much as it was about the destination, not by choice, but by constraints. Nowadays it's mostly about snapping a low quality pic of a sight people already know [0], going from A to B the fastest and cheapest way, packed like cattle in ultra dense flying or rolling metal cages, wreaking havoc on local environment and populations. After mass producing food, cars, culture, we’re now mass producing “experiences”, and they inherit the same traits as other mass manufactured goods: they’re cheap, meaningless, repeatable, bland, and most of all they’re not going to bring you the long lasting “happiness” you expect.

No amount of text will convey what you feel when you get to Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Louvre or other known places. The beauty of the place is dead, all you are left with is a chaotic heap of people shielding their faces from the very thing they came to “experience” behind cameras and phone.

Some people in this thread seems to think that the money brought by tourism counter balances everything. If your only metric is economic growth I have good news for you: a lot of modern issues can be ignored, maybe even all of them.

[0] https://www.boredpanda.com/social-media-instagram-identical-...

Debord puts it better than I’ll ever be able to:

“The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into appearing, from which all actual “having” must draw its immediate prestige and its ultimate function. At the same time all individual reality has become social reality directly dependent on social power and shaped by it” “the more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires.”

“the collective pseudo-displacement of vacations, subscriptions to cultural consumption, and the sale of sociability itself in the form of “passionate conversations” and “meetings with personalities.” This sort of spectacular commodity, which can obviously circulate only because of the increased poverty of the corresponding realities.”


Herds of people also damage the ecosystem. I'm not sure that increased tourism revenue is invested back into maintaining that ecosystem.

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