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It’s official: My transformation into a grumpy old man, sitting on the front porch railing against “kids these days”, is complete.

It happened in Europe, of all places. Amidst the hordes of tourists and selfie sticks, I noticed a trend: someone posing to have their picture taken in front of a landmark, but not like a tourist poses, like … a model. Except they were clearly not a model. And then it dawned on me: these people were posing for their Instagram posts. Dagnabbit social media!

They look ridiculous doing it, of course. Adopting a far-off stare, like they’re contemplating the meaning of the Louvre instead of their follower count; lifting one foot just so to create the illusion that they’re casually walking across a square, instead of standing in one place snarling up pedestrian traffic and hogging the best views for minutes on end.

Most of the photo subjects were women, I’m sorry to say, but I did spy one couple that were both in on the act: First he took pictures of her, and then she took pictures of him. They were both wearing cream-colored overcoats. As I said, ridiculous.

It’s not just annoying in the moment, either. These so-called “social media influencers” (what does that even mean, anyway?) are hoodwinking the rest of us into thinking our travel pictures have to be perfect, just like their “spontaneous” shots. In other words, they’re ruining travel pictures.

With all this fake posing going on, I worry about the survival of real travel photos. You know, the ones where your hair looks weird and your eyes are closed, and the focal point of the picture is slightly off center or out of focus – but all that doesn’t matter because it captures a genuine smile in the moment of discovery. In other words, the kind of pictures that are actually worth taking and, yes, even sharing on social media.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Instagram. But if all your travel pictures are carefully posed and composed solely for your Instagram feed, you’re not a real traveler in my book – just an artificial content generator. And I really wish you’d put down your camera so the rest of us can enjoy the world without you blocking our view.

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