I have a very legitimate fear that I’m going to be in dire financial straits at some point in my life due to the intense jealousy I fester from Instagram. Critics can discuss how the connectivity social media gives us will lead to the downfall of society, but I don’t care about society. I care that I’m seeing my friends travelling to exotic destinations left and right while I white-knuckle it for 20 minutes a day to and from my house trying to figure out when my coffee is cool enough to finally drink.
When you’ve finally eclipsed the age of 25 and you’ve got a little extra coin to play with, everyone turns into the worst version of their millennial selves and starts investing in trips rather than themselves. And to be completely transparent, I respect the move. Saving for the rest of your life sucks. Getting fucked up on an island somewhere is awesome. Sure, I won’t be able to do it when I’m 65 because I overextended myself over a long Memorial Day Weekend, but I’ll be lucky to even make it that far in my life at the rate I’m going.
But with every scroll, I see another friend in another remote location. They’re “adventuring,” or “exploring,” or “wandering,” or some other Tumblr-inspired word that justifies using their parents’ money to binge-drink and Snapchat from a different city than New York, D.C., or Chicago.
Please don’t misconstrue by observations for anything but jealousy. I am jealous. But also realize that my jealousy is aware that you’re not doing these because you have some sort of Hemingway-ian desire to travel the globe. I see right through you and that F2 VSCO filter that’s carefully curated your personal aesthetic for the last 18 months. It’s curated mine too so I get it. You’re not renewing your passport and heading to Tulum because of any intrinsic reasons. You’re doing it because you need some Instagram material.
“Adventuring” isn’t taking pictures in front of graffitied brick walls in third-world countries. Your “mission trip” to The Caribbean was nothing more than an opportunity to take a selfie with some underprivileged kids who have never seen an iPhone before. You probably hammered about a dozen nails that day before stopping because you were profusely sweating and needed some Dasani despite the fact that their village has never sniffed clean water before you got there.
When you’re adventuring or wandering or whatever the fuck you’re calling it up the California coast, you’re just replicating some trip you saw a friend-of-a-friend complete on Instagram months before. Your entire obsession with #wanderlusting is fueled by the trips your friends are taking, which are fueled by the trips their friends are taking. You didn’t want to go to Costa Rica until that friend you hate-follow and haven’t talked to since college hit 400 Instagram likes from her beachside hut that lacked power and plumbing. Sure, their stay in Guatemala looked picture-esque but they were also drenched in mosquito spray trying to avoid Zika. It’s a small price you pay to up your like game.
Posting photos from brunch and your favorite day drinking spot weekend after weekend? That’s so passè. Anyone can afford a $18 entree and a new take on the now-stale mimosa. But not everyone can afford to jaunt overseas and take photos from the comfort of an Icelandic hot spring. Posting a photo from your native zip code is the equivalent of posting something to your Snapchat story instead of your Instagram story at this point. It’s just so 2016, overwrought, and tired. Embarrassing, frankly.
If you’re snapping photos with an iPhone 5 of your local watering hole, you might as well not even exist. You’re just getting dominated by every mid-level marketing manager and recruiter out there who spends all their vacation days on their own trips rather than weddings and family reunions. Lucky bastards – well, lucky bastards with over a thousand Instagram followers and geotags from sea to shining sea.
There’s a huge difference between those losing themselves in the woods and those documenting their Swiss hike step by step on their Story and culminating it with a perfectly curated photo and nonchalant caption. They probably got the same 10,000 steps that day as they do any other day, but this time, they’ve got the likes to match. And more power to ’em, because like I’ve said before and I’ll say again: we’re all jealous.
Well, not of the missions trips. We still see right through those. .