Not just faces are getting filtered for Instagram. Places are finding themselves falling under the scourge. Like a plague of locusts the innumerable seekers of the perfect lifestyle shot and selfie angle are landing on unsuspecting loci with the frequency of pests sent from above to torture residents and put pressure on lifestyles and environments that hitherto were definitely not their own.
Just last week, a town in bloom in southern California was set upon by a pestilence of narcissists hellbent on a selfie. The unusual poppy bloom in Lake Elsinore, a rather small town, led to a stampede of hundreds of thousands Instagrammers on the poppy fields several weekends in a row, trampling the blooms and causing three-hour traffic pileups. The town tried to control the poppy fever by imposing an entry fee and a boom but to no avail, leading to the telling hashtag #poppyapocalypse.
In Paris a pastel coloured street has become the scene of just such an Instagram crime. Thousands of wannabe-influencers manifest daily decked out in peach, puce and lilac to pose nonchalantly in people’s doorways, set up impromptu photo shoots in their pot plants and generally, make a nuisance of themselves. I can tell you who is not #blessed by all the selfie generating going on – the residents of the street who are now in emergency consultation with the city council to stem the tide of 'grammers so that they are not forced to say adieu to Rue Cremieux.
As the quest for ever more Instagram-friendly locations grows, I wonder what these hordes of recorders are gaining from their quests to prettify their online lives. The lapse between reality and the online version of it is sometimes breached irreparably.
Pause for a moment and wonder at the tragic Indian couple who plunged together to their death in the Yosemite National Park last year as they posed for a selfie. Both were consumed by the image on the screen – so they failed to notice they were stepping back into the gigantic crevice behind them. Consider too the bikini-clad Taiwanese social media star and hiker who would disrobe at the top of each peak she scaled and strike a pose for posterity and likes.
She had never met a filter she didn’t like – until the one that filtered her out completely. Gigi Wu fell down a ravine on one of these escapades, setting off a three-day rescue operation of mammoth proportions. But too late. At the time of her death she had 98 bikinis, and was thus sadly forced to repeat two as she had scaled 100 peaks. Which begs the question – had she reached peak selfie?