Is selfie a killer for the love of travel?

Could the selfie be able to establish itself as a cultural practice like that! And so as a form of resistance to the established order?

In the future, everyone is entitled to 15 minutes of world stardom

Bookshelfie mode is activated 🙂

Who has not experienced such a mistake? Whether in front of the Taj Mahal, the Château de Chambord or the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, it is inevitable that these same smiles will freeze in front of the digital screen. And naturally back to decorating. Otherwise clouds on the poles will pollute the environment and prevent you from any peaceful contemplation of the place being visited. Welcome to the world of selfies. Unless Hibernatus is your name, you don’t have to remember the principle : we took our picture, we posted it on social networks… and we didn’t look at the work or the scene in question.

Even if this practice, called by some Instagrammable tourism, is now common, its invention is, on the other hand, very old. In fact, the first selfie would have been taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography.

What roads have we taken since then. Selfie was chosen word of the year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries, which contains the reference work in English. In the same year, he appeared at Le Petit Larousse. In addition, practice has created a completely specific vocabulary. “Duck face” if you have a duck mouth. Or even “Wellfie”, if you choose to show off your muscles. My favorite? “Bookshelfie”, that is to photograph yourself with a library in the background.

Tourism marketing selfies

Etourisme.info, on several occasions, looks at the field of tourist institution and the use of this means of communication. From 2014 thanks to Ludovic Dublanchet, with important contributions from Jean-Luc Boulin (2015) and Margot Perroy (2017).

Why come back? First of all, note the evolution of this use and its effects, direct, indirect and induced. Then think about the hidden meaning of this now common practice.

First, an observation. Aside from tourism, it is now the world of culture that holds the event. Budapest, Los Angeles, Stockholm, London, Montreal… Dedicated to “science, art and culture of self -representation”, selfie museums have sprung up around the world. Initially temporary in the form of “pop-up” installations, these entertainment areas proliferated and some became inactive. Here, no works of art are shown. The principle of these “instagramable” museums? Give to meet.

A new selfie museum has opened near Stockholm

Still in the culture department, keep in mind that in 2014 #MuseumSelfieDay was launched, the global selfie day in museums (every January 16).

On the tourism side, therefore, we no longer take into account the number of competitions, selfie rallies and other XXL selfies distributed at various institutional levels of tourism promotion. It’s hard now to be original. In addition to violating codes of etiquette, which New Zealand aptly did in 2021 with a communication campaign determined to ridicule Instagrammers eager to pose in the same places. This campaign, called “Do Something New” urges visitors, first and foremost the New Zealanders themselves, to break free from the trends introduced by social networks.

And if in the end, the question underpinned by this communication campaign is the following: aren’t Instagram posts threatening the ecosystem of the most beautiful places on the planet? But maybe something more serious …

Be careful, the selfie can kill.

Animals first.

Because when travelers choose their destination based on Instagrammable places, they love the wildlife shots of those destinations. Better exotic animals. Who, you already understand, can do nothing on this boat, especially since they are forced to do so, often at the cost of severe suffering. In the tropical rain forest of Amazonia, for example, we see the birth of severe exploitation of sloths that have been snatched by natives from their wild habitat to force them to live in an unfavorable environment, in permanent contact. to tourists. This is also to raise their awareness that a “Travel Selfie Code” has been created. France will not be saved. So in the Pyrenees National Park, agents warn guests to avoid selfies with cows …

Integrity, then.

At the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, it is common to see young people adopting big smiles in their selfies, displaying in the maze or standing on commemorative concrete stelae. Very interesting reaction in 2017 to the apparent lack of respect shown by these visitors, the Yolocaust.de project, a reduction of the expression “Yolo” (“You only live once”) and the word Holocaust. Israeli artist Shahak Shapira once used photo montages to place some of these photographers in mass graves or death camps. Exceptional guarantee.

New toy for selfie lovers, the Chernobyl site. Especially since the success of the “Chernobyl” series (broadcast in France on OCS). The city of Pripyat in Ukraine, the closest to the plant, has therefore become the center of a new genre, nuclear tourism. That’s why series creator Craig Mazin asked fans to be polite on social media.

Finally, the photographers.

It is estimated that selfies can kill five times more people than a shark attack. According to a study by the Spanish foundation iO, and as reported by the weekly Le Point, death by selfie now represents a real public health issue. Between January 2008 and July 2021, 379 deaths from these conditions were recorded, averaging one case every 13 days. The first country of this bad hit parade, is India. The United States and Russia completed the podium.

An awesome anthology of young lives sacrificed at the selfie altar.

She Lost Her Life Taking Selfie… Check Out Her Last Photo!

But then, can selfie be the opposite of responsible tourism? In short, are we complicit in this Disneylandization of tourism?

To avoid any arbitrary position, it is necessary to go back to the origins of this practice.

The selfie, the cult of individualism …

Is it really relevant in the field of tourism to have someone just take a selfie without showing the beauty of the destination? I personally am not like that said Bruno Maltor, travel blogger, followed by more than 1.3 million people.

Writer StĂ©phane Audeguy continues: “ the selfie is a strange and terrible victory for tourist individualism. He notices the omnipresence of the forced smile in these types of shots and this claim of never being able to discover a site that doesn’t show itself. ” Here we become promoters and traders ourselves. » This generalization seems to herald the abandonment of our own singularity.

This self-expression is intended to be propagated in a restricted or expanded community is therefore above all a narcissistic practice. Besides, isn’t it called “self-portrait” in Quebec? Early in 1979, sociologist Christopher Lasch spoke of “ culture of narcissism »; Young people, the main provider of selfies, so have ” the language itself for the native language (Jean M. Twenge). By the same token, this unreasonable use of a permanently documented and disseminated life may be a symptom of contemporary narcissism with its self -culture favored by social networks; the symbol of a decline that our civilization will go through. Here we see it, moral judgment precedes any rational test of appreciation.

selfie. Smile, you are judged …

Or acts of resistance?

Sharing a selfie is actually a social act that means membership in a group. And again, ” I am different (Rimbaud). Because what matters, more than the subject, is the frame. Who I am with, where I am, what I do… In addition, regarding the aesthetic dimension of photographs, sociologist Pierre Bourdieu once said in 1965 in “ the unique adventure of the one who took them. So if in the end the main function of the selfie is to participate in shaping the identity of the subject concerned? And that’s really where the cleavage can be seen. Because this particular way of creating a self-image is not determined by adults (about teenagers), nor by the cultural corpus. We know, especially through the work of Pierre Bourdieu, that culture is a tool of social domination. That’s why, ” The selfie has become the flagship of the powerful movement to empower cultural practices inspired by the digital transition. (AndrĂ© Gunthert).

Thus the selfie would have been able to establish itself as a cultural practice as such! And so as a form of resistance to the established order? Take Ridley Scott’s iconic 1991 film “Thelma and Louise”. Didn’t we see two women, tired of submission and drunk on freedom, waving an arm-length Polaroid to take an unnamed selfie?

As we can see, this topic is not yet finished making a lot of ink flow…

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