Incidents with TikTok and YouTube creators at famed landmarks are leading some sites to ban offenders or anyone seeking to boost their followers by using sacred backdrops in their videos.
The latest example comes from Nepal, where officials and site managers have banned the would-be influencers from religious and historic attractions like the Buddhist pilgrimage site Lumbini, Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa, and the Ram Janaki and Gadhimai temples
“Making TikTok by playing loud music creates a nuisance for pilgrims from all over the world who come to the birthplace of Gautama Buddha,” the Lumbini Development Trust’s Sanuraj Shakya told Rest of World. “We have banned TikTok-making in and around the sacred garden, where the main temples are located.”
A search for videos of the famed locations on social platforms reveals a number of short videos of mostly young women dancing their way through sacred sites.
Surveillance cameras and security guards have been deployed at several sites in Nepal to catch and eject rulebreakers.
Location, Location, Location
Several years ago I sat on a beach in Tulum, Mexico and watched a classically attractive and photogenic couple set their towels on the sand in front of me. They pulled out drinks, beach balls, sunscreen and arranged a scene in front of the perfect azure water backdrop.
Next the smartphones came out.
The pair spent about 45 minutes taking turns getting hundreds of shots of each other and then packed up all their accessories and left without ever taking a moment to actually swim, sunbathe or even sip the drinks they brought along as props.
At the risk of sounding insanely old, it was disconcerting then and the rise of TikTok alongside Instagram has added another irritating dimension to the trend.
Last year, one TikToker went viral by basically shooting videos of himself wandering around Disney World and being as obnoxious as possible. Jason Jeter ended up getting himself a lifetime ban from Disney.
In a more disturbing incident, the Pakistani state of Punjab has banned content creators from filming in public parks following an upsetting instance in which a female Tiktok creator was harassed and assaulted at the Minar-E-Pakistan tower in Lahore.
While that particular case has the bitter taste of punishing the victim, other incidents in Nepal have seen creators causing traffic jams and even ruining crops by roaming around fields to capture the perfect scene.
The growing problem is likely to continue and will be addressed in myriad ways, as individual communities struggle to weigh the notoriety and tourist dollars influencers can send their way against their methods that can often be damaging and disrespectful.