Travel shaming is a toxic trend

Editor’s note: This is an op-ed piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Facebook and Instagram have always been a battlefield of aesthetics, where we line up our most heavily filtered photos like soldiers and pit them against each other for likes and engagement. The rules of “engagement” used to be simple: Post the most enviable vacation photo or diabolical thirst trap on a beach, and you win the battle. Now, the rules have changed.

In a pandemic fraught with universal illness, poverty, grief, and loneliness, the public expression of joy is considered taboo. Rather than tamping down the mundane aspects of our lives and elevating the few lustrous moments, as usual, now we do the opposite. Social media is still a battlefield of appearances, but it’s all about appearing the most empathetic and responsible. That might sound like a welcome change if it wasn’t accompanied by a new, toxic trend: shaming.

Staying sensitive to the plight of others amid a global health crisis is important. To do otherwise would be tone-deaf. But personal sensitivity and responsibility have spilled over into outright judgement of those still choosing to share their fun experiences online. We’ve all seen