Changes to Instagram and reminiscing about Y2K
Changes to Instagram and reminiscing about Y2K
06 JANUARY 2020 8:28 AM

Instagram no doubt has its place to do good, but it appears it just helps further clog up already popular tourism spots and should fill us with dread, at least as much as the feared Y2K bug.

Happy New Year!

Last week, Hotel News Now’s Editorial Director Stephanie Ricca tweeted aghast at the lack of familiarity of the term Y2K among young people.

I should add that reading the news Thursday morning, I saw out of the corner of my eye that musician Post Malone fell off a stage during New Year’s Eve celebrations, and I have never heard of him. So obliviousness runs both ways, but then again I read he was born in 1995 so probably he can be added to the list of Y2K-ignorant individuals.

Are we in a safer time as we enter a new decade?

Perhaps so, as Y2K was for a few weeks at the end of the 20th century the end of the world as we knew it. That was before the existence of huge amounts of data swirling around us—before iPhones and the relatively sophisticated world of hotel revenue management and distribution platforms.

Y2K was expected to instantly wipe out every single bit of computer information at the change of the millennium, and this was a real fear that I was utterly ignorant how to stop and probably blasé if it was to occur.

At the time, United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President Bill Clinton—along with tech companies worldwide—assembled huge teams of eggheads to not prevent the electronic danger but at least mitigate its effects.

On 19 December 1999, Geoffrey Lean wrote in the Independent: “Russia and America are starting up an unprecedented joint early warning system this week, amid fears that the millennium bug could start a nuclear war. … Top brass from both sides will watch missile warning screens side by side in a specially constructed building until a week after the New Year. They will try to detect false alarms from computer glitches, and avoid launching nuclear strikes in response.”

That reads comically today—and probably it did a week into the year 2000, too—but for some time the fear was up there with Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on his desk at the United Nations in 1960 (please explain to younger souls) and the possibility of the price of Marmite going up in 2016 due to the weakness of the pound sterling.

The equivalent fear as we enter 2020 is that Instagram becomes even more popular and messes up tourism as we all once enjoyed it.

Last week, InterContinental Hotels Group “celebrated” the 10th anniversary of this popular social media platform with a list of the most popular places for unnecessary photos.

In its blurb, IHG said it considered “how Instagram has transformed the travel landscape and informed the way in which we travel,” neither which are good things, although to be fair IHG has not said they are.

Of the Instagram photos the hotel firm analyzed, almost 10% are of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which has now become the pre-Internet equivalent of those photos of travelers pretending to push back up straight the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Blair and Clinton should team up together again and organize a task force. IHG continues to say that “in 2020, 39% of global luxury travelers will put more focus on social media when (travelling) in the coming year.” What’s more scary is “55% of global luxury travelers believe capturing social media content while traveling increases their ability to have a meaningful experience.”

I feel like I want to fall off the planet, if not just a stage.

There might be some good news, though. I read on website Influencer Marketing Hub that one of its social media trends for 2020 is that Instagram might remove the possibility of adding “likes” to posts because “likes determine a person’s social value, and waiting for such validation is detrimental to people’s mental health.”

That sounds hopeful, although I continue to read that others think this is just a marketing ploy to get advertisers—and the influencers they promote—moving to paid ads.

It was in 1999, by the way, that the first real revolutions in mobile phones happened, with Nokia replacing external antennae with an internal mechanism and BlackBerry releasing its first logoed phone, the BlackBerry 850—although this Canadian firm has not always had business go fully its way.

The next 20 years no doubt will throw up more technology that either delights or horrifies, and makes dinosaurs like me struggle even more so to keep up.

At least sales of drones seem to have fallen from the sky following the sage at Gatwick Airport, and those who high in my list of annoyances and fears at the start of last year.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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