You’d think in a country where Instagram was blocked there would be no Instagrammification of places. But then you’d be wrong…very wrong.
Case in point: my local beach. I’m out on the beach almost everyday and the other day, seemingly out of nowhere, a few new items grew out of the sand overnight.
One is a giant pink hashtag symbol.
Another is a big pink @ sign.
Smaller and less noticeable is a colorful “direction” sign, it’s lack of actual utility betrayed by the fact it was just randomly planted with no actual distance measurements on the sign.
And the cutest, most practical element: a row of colorful wooden beach chairs chained together so they can’t be separated (and the beautifying effect can’t be ruined.)
The thing is, the beach is packed and already has been a popular place to create social media content. Even on a Monday morning I can go to a near empty beach yet find 2-3 people vlogging, taking carefully calculated pictures, or, my least favorite, streaming themselves singing karaoke at full volume.
So I don’t know why the city decided adding these little quirks would be a good idea. Especially as the city has gone through great pains to keep the whole area very natural and unbuilt. The road is over a block away (so no cars near the beach) and there are no shops or commerce in the beach area besides from a few small places selling drinks every few kilometers.
Parking lots are filled to the brim on weekends, with some cars waiting for 30+ minutes to get a space, and trying to find a space being enough for your picnic blanket can be a feat on a Saturday afternoon. So they certainly don’t need to attract more people to the beach. They added a bunch of extra toilets this summer simply because the preexisting infrastructure wasn’t enough (proving they have more people than expected.)
So, why add these touches? I don’t know. Maybe the head of the beach administration has a big following on social media and wanted to jazz up their videos. (Or perhaps, more likely, they have a 17 year-old-daughter who is into social media and suggested it.) But I kinda wish they just left it alone. I don’t care for a giant hashtag ruining my view of the beach, or a random signpost pointing to nowhere.
I don’t know how big a draw it is actually to influencers, but I do know they have become a handy spot for the beach cleaners. I’ve seen them taking a break on the chairs, or hiding under the big # signs getting a little shade as they play with their phones. Probably not the purpose they were intended for, but at least someone is getting some use out of the eyesores.