Narcissism is everywhere.
Since our Camino, we have been on the more usual tourist jaunt, that is, we’ve been using transport to get around and have been rubbing shoulders with international tourists all gathering at famous sites and recording it for posterity (or their photo album, if such a thing exists anymore). We have been to Porto, Lisbon, Venice and are now in Rome.
My observation is that many tourists are more interested in situating themselves in new, ‘exotic’ contexts than understanding or experiencing the new and novel context itself. The context isn’t central or salient. It is the background for the portrait. The context is just circumstantial to people’s obsession with self. Self-placement is everywhere, and it is exhausting to observe and embarrassing to watch. Here are a few examples…
Or else, the fact that even though many tourists are actually in new and exotic contexts, they don’t seem to interact directly with it in the moment. More often than not, they are experiencing it mediated through the phone. Consider this example with the Vatican in the background.
We get pushed out of the way or find a stranger’s arm with iPhone attached, rising beside or between us for their selfie. Never mind that it is in our physical space. Shameless posing and self placement without any modesty. It really is a different approach to the tourist experience. It seems that narcissism is the new normal, and we are the odd ones out.