15 Nov Instagramable is a Shallow Description
Calling something as Instagramable is the laziest and the most shallow description of it
You know what makes me sick? It’s all the media, blogs, and Instagram accounts who use the word “Instagramable” to describe a place. From my point of view, it is simply the laziest and the most shallow description of something. An insult, if I dare.
When you call something is “Instagramable”, you attract people whose sole aim is to take pretty pictures and shove it to
their arse their social media pages. You make people want to go there just for the sake of pictures, without telling them about the values, histories, and the deep and profound culture it might have. You call museum as Instagramable? All you get is visitors hungry for pictures. They go around from one painting or another for the perfect pose. Really, do you expect more?
I know that term annoyed me because it is used to describe an independent library called Kineruku in Bandung. After since it became a hit, people come and go, not even bother to touch a book – for heaven’s sake – even when they have hundreds of literature books in front of them. They don’t sit around and sip the sweet tea while enjoying the freshness of its air and the serene green of the back garden. When they call it Instagramable, they don’t know the added values of that place. They don’t know how difficult it is to have independent library in a small town these days. They don’t know the book discussion and music jam that are held for a very intimate session – and how they are very meaningful for those limited communities.
Kineruku is the place when I stumbled upon Catatan Pinggir – and thereafter, addicted to read it. It was the place that I began to question all my belief to a religion – after reading the book of Mahabarata. It was the place of gossip whispers, tale of dreams, and the lost hopes of college. It was where I learned about Photoshop, taught by my friend. The skill that has helped me a lot, and the one I always thank my past-self for. That place has been a very valuable sanctuary, wherein I could always listen to my lone thoughts. And I believe that more people take Kineruku as their special places, too. Hence, looking at people describing it as Instagramable makes me want to vomit.
The Problem with ‘Instagramable’ Tourism Phenomenon
I think the most problematic result of this so-called Instagramable stigmatization is: people are really into appearance now, especially toward places. When I headed back to my hometown, Malang, every single place tries TOO HARD to become the pretty background for social media updates. Like, for instance, we have this beautiful waterfall called Coban Rondo, but what the management does is stage a “love swing”, hammock, put some flowers here and there, and then make tourists pay for it – just so that they can take a picture in the pretty background. And don’t let me start with all the “selfie museum” out there. There’s this so-called museum called Rabbit Town, which basically steals several works from famous artists installations abroad and make their imitations for the sake of “selfies fees”. In my country, this increasingly lame phenomenon is called “selfie tourism”.
It makes me so sad, to be honest. I mean, is that really all the point of our traveling? To take pretty pictures and to show it off to the world?
Nowadays, it’s SO HARD for me to find like genuine, cozy, cool places to hang out. Places with decent food, good ambiance, and warm interaction. Every cafes, every restaurants, parks, museums, bookstores, hotels, they try everything in their power to attract people by creating out-of-this-world decoration. Restaurants and cafes got it worse. They spend (too) much money on decoration and Instagram marketing, instead of creating honest menu that genuinely tastes good and not a rip-off. Easy to guess, it doesn’t take a long time before they finally bid good bye. Most of them were only crowded in the first two weeks or so. Once people realize the food is not worth-it – and when they already get the pictures that they want – they leave and never come back.
My Two Cents
I get it. Human are visual beings and we like to savor everything with our eyes. We like to see pretty things, but the existence of Instagram should not make it this much worse. Decorations and all that are nice, but that should not be our only focus. When we eat, we should not search for Instagramable cafe or restaurant. Trust me, they always end up as the worst picks!
I think that the word Instagramable makes everything sound shallow, meaningless, and look good without bringing additional values. It’s all about look and not the deeper meaning. It’s not genuine – that ‘s the word I’m looking for.
We are all basically writers. We write status, captions, articles, blogs, etc. It’s time to stop using the word Instagramable. There are hundred other adjectives that we can choose instead. We need to really tell the values, the history, the meaning. We need to tell our experiences, our feelings. Like, when you go here, you will feel as if you’re alone and the whole world is before you. Imagine how powerful that narrative is rather than just calling some place to be Instagramable?
Let’s find more meaningful, genuine, honest places to see.
Try more authentic, unpretentious, local dishes.
Be more curious to seek deeper, beyond just the looks.
I hope I always learn to do just so.