Words by

Bianca O'Neill

After 23 hours in a tin can, thousands of feet in the air, sleepless and weary, I’ve touched down in Marrakech. 

Thoughts of a bustling 11th Century medina, full of life and colour lay ahead. It would surely make this long, shitty trip worth it. Right?


Turns out Instagram’s tiresome reach has infiltrated even the most ancient of the world’s corners. 

Arriving in Marrakech I was hoping for just one fleeting moment of authenticity, among the tour bus touristas and older French couples. Just one moment that could capture what life could have been like, back when this town was far from the well-trodden tourist trap it is today. 

Unfortunately, for every quiet corner I turned, there was a posing twentysomething, looking wistfully off into the distance, before running back intermittently to check how Insta-worthy their friend’s shot was.

A bomber jacket and a wistful look into the distance at the Ben Youssef Madrasa. An ironic rock tee and a wistful look into the distance in a medina alleyway. Mom jeans and a wistful look into the distance at a carpet shop. (No, she didn’t buy a carpet).

Is this what travel has become for our generation? A variety of colourful and exotic backdrops for our selfies? No wonder all the other generations hate us.

It’s palpably depressing to think of all the time these people are wasting, during this once-in-a-lifetime moment, on ensuring they look like some perfect version of themselves. 

This idea that we’re all mini-celebrities – that someone gives a rat’s ass how you paired those vintage jeans with your tan backpack on your summer holiday – is positively nauseating. When you aren’t appreciating everything around you, in order to ensure your selfie is bomb, well, that’s entitled as fuck. 

I admit, the whole idea of ‘put away your phone lest you miss out on #lyfe’ is boring. It’s an overused mantra for wannabe columnists trying to spruik their latest self-help book about how to ‘switch off’. 

I myself spend 99.9% of my back-at-the-hotel time scrolling through pics, trying to decide which should make the cut for my curated feed.

I’ve even busted out a wistful look into the distance or two in my time.

But I welcome anyone to come and kick me in the face if every single photo I post of an amazing country like Morocco is a fucking selfie. If every place I go, I have to look On Brand enough that my #fans see 10% of Morocco and 90% of my #sponsored wardrobe. 

Sure, follow a bunch of these peeps if you want the Vogue version of travel – modelesque poses, a full face of makeup, primped and preened and fake and gleaming. 

But if you want to know how a real person pulls up after flying economy for a full 24 hours, dealing with a questionable stomach, a screaming baby in the next seat and a backpack full of clothing that smells like someone dragged a dead cat through the desert, then follow a travel writer. 

And THEN take a selfie that you would be proud to set to public… wistfully looking off into the distance, of course.

Follow Bianca’s journey of wistful looks into the Moroccan distance over at @_thesecondrow

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