Somewhere along the line, photography went from a means of recording reality to a force that informs it. Instead of living our lives and periodically capturing the "Kodak moments" as they occur, we began to manufacture them. I don't know if this is an inherently bad thing—maybe it's just the logical next step in the world Susan Sontag described in 1977, where photography offered "indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had." But we no longer simply go places and photograph what happens. What happens is largely a function of what we photograph. Now more than ever, we author our lives.
It's with this in mind that I decided to go on a road trip across the United States without leaving the comfort of my home. #InstaRoadTrip2016 is a two week journey from New York to California—a classic American voyage of youthful soul-searching and self-discovery—made entirely on Instagram. I mapped out my route and have been exploring all this great nation has to offer using photographs that have been geotagged in the locations I want to visit. I've been on the road for several days now and hope to reach the Pacific sometime in early February.
Why go on #InstaRoadTrip2016? Because it's confusing. I don't mean that I'm hoping to make something that, like a lot of art, is intentionally elusive and hard to make meaning of. What I'm interested in is disorientation—the way our culture of image making and sharing can make fact feel like fiction, and fiction like fact. That is, as personal storytelling/broadcasting becomes our primary motivation for being, acting and doing, the line between story and reality is sure to blur.
My mom currently thinks I'm driving across the American Rust Belt. Either she hasn't been carefully reading the captions under my pictures, or she has and somehow still thinks I'm on a "real" old fashioned road trip. The point is that she's confused. The point is that she's reading my story, but is unsure where her son is, what he's up to, or how he's doing.
Gideon Jacobs is a writer based in Brooklyn. You can follow his work here.