Stop Posting Pandemic Vacation Photos on Instagram


Shortly after New Year’s Day, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram in bed like I do all the time, when I came across a series of posts that made me want to hurl my phone out the window and into the street.

The offending images came from a young woman, a minor acquaintance from a now-distant social circle. I wouldn’t have ever thought of her had her IG Story not popped up at the top of my feed. I clicked. Instantly, I was bombarded with photos of her laughing in a bikini. On a beach. With friends. In Tulum. During a pandemic.

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In the immortal lyrics of Sheryl Crow, queen of simply wanting to have some fun, I wanted to reach through my screen to inform her: “Babe, this ain’t no disco. This ain’t no country club either. This is 2021.” You should know better.

So I hit the unfollow button with zero guilt and never looked back. But just because she’s out of my sight doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about her and the other jet-setters who are living their best lives on tropical vacations while the rest of us seethe from afar.

To pretend our actions are immune from consequences is just as reckless as pretending that our social media posts have zero influence on others.

What astounds me is not the fact that people continue to break the “rules.” This has been happening since March and is nothing new. What truly dumbfounds me even more is the casually shameless way in which people publicly document their selfishness on social media.

To which I say, please stop.

Stop advertising your bad behavior. Not because you look stupid (although you do). Not because you don’t want to get caught. But because in addition to your large gatherings captioned “Everyone has been tested!” and non-subtle sunset pics taken 30,000 feet in the sky (spoiler: the virus doesn’t care if you’re traveling to an island or to your grandmother’s house in Wisconsin—it will go with you!), your social media posts send a dangerous message. They normalize the very actions doctors and scientists are pleading against. They say, “If I’m doing it, so can you.”

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When it comes to a pandemic, it doesn’t matter if you’re Kim Kardashian West, Charli D’Amelio, or a person with barely 100 followers—you have influence whether you like it or not, be they friends, family, or even the randos who exclusively follow you for the puppy pics. In fact, it’s safe to assume that you have more influence in your immediate circle than Kim K does! A 2017 study on how social media affects people’s decision-making revealed that posts by close friends and family were the “most influential” when it comes to travel. That’s right. You, yes, you have the power to directly impact your loved ones’ decisions and in turn, help keep them safe. I promise that no Caribbean vacation will give you a better, warmer feeling than that.

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Unlike Kim, most people don’t have the luxury of flying their faves to party on a private island. But when you see a friend’s Insta featuring their week on the beach, this kind of vacation appears harmless, maybe even responsible, in comparison. But the truth is, no matter how many times you test negative, wash your hands, or think you’re being safe, you never truly know. That’s why we are repeatedly told to stay home. To pretend our actions are immune from consequences is just as reckless as pretending that our social media posts have zero influence on others.

More than 350,000 Americans have died during this horrific pandemic and the numbers are still climbing. Yes, vaccines are being distributed but we’re a long way from safety. Destination trips and weekend getaways will continue to be risky and ill-advised, but frivolously promoting them on your grid only makes this behavior even more irresponsible than it already is. For the first time in my life, when I see others sipping drinks out of coconuts somewhere exotic or hanging out with friends at a party, I don’t feel envy. Instead, I feel a pang of sadness because I know that the longer people ignore guidelines and act in their own self-interests, the longer we’ll all live in this awful reality. In the meantime, I’ll still be at home waiting for a vaccine with my finger hovering over that unfollow button.

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