If 2017 was the year that the elaborate selfie peaked, 2019 might be the year that we reassess influencer culture. In Paris, that is exactly what is happening, where Instagram herds are ruining a tiny, photogenic street for the residents that live there.
If your explore page is filled with pastel street photos, then perhaps you've come across Rue Crémieux, which is tucked away from the Seine in the 12th arrondissement. The small street has become a haven for photo shoots in the wake of social media, but the residents who live there have reached a breaking point. Now they're in an all-out feud with influencers and are demanding that the city do something to stop the hashtag zombies who have taken over their street.
Specifically, the residents of Rue Crémieux are demanding that Paris close their street to visitors on the evenings, during magic hour, and on weekends, the busiest times for Instagram users. “We sit down to eat and just outside we have people taking photos—rappers who take two hours to film a video right beneath the window, or bachelorette parties who scream for an hour. Frankly, it’s exhausting,” one resident told radio station France Info, per City Lab.
What most visitors don't know about Rue Crémieux is that its old-world charm is actually fairly new. Even though the row homes were built in the late 19th century to house construction workers, the street didn't get its pastel colors until some residents began giving their homes makeovers with pretty paint shades beginning in 1996, as City Lab notes. Clearly, that doesn't matter to the flocks of people who come in search of the perfect profile photo, though.
Even though we're just a few months into the year, the conversations surrounding the dark side of influencer culture are already mounting. That's largely due to the cultural domination of Fyre Festival, a case study in how far people will go to curate their Instagram grid, with the arrival of Netflix and Hulu's competing documentaries on the subject. There is also the fact that Burning Man, an annual event that precedes social media, has come out against the rise of influencers attending each year and, of course, documenting it all on their pages. As Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell wrote in January, "Posts of gratitude cross-referenced with hashtags started off slow and innocently enough, but are now wildly out of control.... One of the most distressing trends is the increase of participants (both new and experienced) who don’t seem invested in cocreating Black Rock City, and are attending as consumers."
Paris's Rue Crémieux and Burning Man aren't the only things being ruined by Instagram. Our collective love of likes is also putting at risk art, travel, and nature. Sure, it's an influencer's world and we're just living in it. But at what cost?