Instagram influencers are always riding off any kinds of hype – be it latest brands, the weirdest makeup trends or the most popular shows and destinations.
That isn’t necessarily bad per-se. Questionable, sometimes, in terms of consumer integrity and the usage of advertisement and whatnot, as well as their true opinions becoming uncertain because of financial investments involced, but still.
It’s not necessarily harmful (until they start promoting weightloss pills and whatnot)…usually. However, in the currently unfolding scenario, it’s a problem.
Why Pripyat is suddenly a goal destination
It all started with HBO’s latest hit show titled Chernobyl. Set in northern Ukraine in the now mostly abandoned ghost-city of Pripyat, it talks about the nuclear disaster that took place in April 1968 and left the city uninhabitable.
The show is extremely detailed and high-quality – while also being impressively historically accurate, which is evident from comparison to archived materials, and from comments of the survivors who had actually been there – and has been extremely successful globally.
And what do influencers do? Ride off hype and others’ success to build more hype around it, so…
Why the influencers are wrong
See, Pripyat tours have been a thing for a while, and it’s harmless… when you take the necessary precautions and wear the protection gear that is necessary to accomplish that.
And that’s where influencers fail. Instead of promoting safer ways of exploring potentially dangerous locations like that, they just… undress and take sexy photoshoots.
Not only is it harmful to themselves – yes, the radiation levels are not deadly at this point, but you can still very well get a tumour – it is also a dangerous thing to show off, because some people will follow suit in their footsteps. And you don’t want that at all.
(Photo taken in Pripyat, Ukraine)
Why dark tourism is so alluring
Dark tourism is not exclusive to Chernobyl, actually; it has been a thing for years, and spread to different locations, from various warzones, to oppressive totalitarian states like North Korea.
It’s so popular for a lot of reasons. Some people are attracted to the potential dangers and risks of it all – they’re adrenaline junkies. For others, it’s a weird realisation of one’s own well-being that is strongly highlighted by the misfortune of others, a thing that, in media, is often dubbed poverty porn. For some, it’s a genuine love of history.
Regardless, it’s not like Chernobyl is the first dark tourism destination, and it will not be the last. It’s not even a new dark tourism destination – it’s just that the commercial success of the show has attracted a lot of, well, dumbassery (sorry) to it.
What to do, and what not to do
If you do decide to follow suit and visit Chernobyl because you suddenly discover your inner adrenaline junkie, don’t forget to do your research.
Wear clothing that would protect you properly. Remember to take all the necessary precautions. Some materials are better than others, some types of clothing are better than others.
Bring sunscreen, invest in a geiger-counter (a small device that measures radiation levels), go on a guided tour if this is your first time and you’re unsure of where is safe, and where isn’t safe to go.
And for the love of god, don’t do this: