The “travel aesthetic”, or the stereotypical journeys of Generation Z

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Once again the influencers and their pathological mania to control everything…. If you’re not a TikTok follower or don’t create boards on Pinterest, you might not know what a “travel aesthetic” is.

Nowadays, the fashion ofaesthetic travel seems vital in Gen Z’s holiday planning, totally social media-driven, therefore based on collections of inspirational memories found on the various platforms and filled with images of idealized destinations.

On TikTok, #travelaesthetic has over 66 million views; #londonaesthetic has 47 million views and #japanaesthetic has 91 million views. On Instagram, there are nearly 48,000 “travel aesthetic” tags, plus thousands for specific places like Paris (48,000), London (89,000) or Japan (76,000).

Be the most beautiful or the most beautiful before pressing the “share” button

Seemingly perfect images that lead straight to boredom… Every outfit worn (even on the plane) is trendy, every meal eaten on vacation is filled with fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables, and every selfie in front of the venue chosen must have the ideal lighting, angle and expression, an improved version of oneself…. often close to terror, induced by the tyranny of filters.

On the move, the disconnection of these tourists from reality is disturbing, noting how this succession of images seems to follow a monotonous scenario on the vacation spot that has become a recording set.

A mania for comparison that leads them very quickly to disappointment, because reality rarely lives up to their fantasies: unique shots of the “aesthetics” of a country or a city that over the years , television, films, magazines, travel guides and, above all, social networks, have instilled in them.

The temptation to simplify

By its very nature, the aesthetics of travel reduce a complex destination to a series of clichés and stereotypes. It is often a question of restricting a culture to the most elementary, sometimes racist and xenophobic caricatures.

It’s a trend that has exploded in recent times, in part due to the phenomenon of “set-jetting”, in which people visit a place based on television programs or films, such as beautiful shots ofEmily in Paris.

Moreover, once a culture is viewed as largely visual – rather than complex and, above all, human – aesthetics become a shortcut to something far more damaging: places are decontextualized and rendered unreal, and its inhabitants are more likely to be stereotyped and dehumanized.

Social networks have, alas, changed the game, because no culture can be summed up in a single image. In competition for a few seconds of attention, the simplification when it comes to discovering the foreign and the exotic has become even more reductive.

Catherine Mills Avatar