Oh, the places you’ll go, and how you won’t stop letting us know
If place-dropping sounds like name-dropping it’s because it is, only it’s as visual as it is verbal. Just as name-droppers hope to inflate their social status by hoping you’ll associate them with important people, place-droppers inflate their value by hoping you’ll associate them with important places and the money and free time required to visit said places. They do it by casually referencing or Insta-bombing all the far-flung locales they’ve visited — bonus points if they’re known celebrity destinations like St. Tropez or Monaco.
Heading to Berlin next week; sooo paranoid about the jet lag, you might say to pre-emptively place-drop. European city: check. Far enough away to experience jet lag: check. Seasoned enough traveler to complain about it: check. But what about Berlin? Why are you going? What do you hope to see there? Oops, you forgot to mention it. Classic place-drop.
“We go to New York a lot,” someone might mention with an air of annoyance, to let you know they can afford several-hundred dollar plane tickets to a cosmopolitan city several times a year, “and flying just isn’t what it used to be.” But why? What for? What it’s like? Did you form any actual opinions about it? ::Crickets::
You’ll know you’ve been placed-dropped because it feels like someone is not telling you anything other than than the fact that they’ve gone somewhere fancy and go similar fancy places a lot. A few other examples of place-dropping:
We usually do Bali but this year we might try out Morocco.
Drinks next week? Oh I can’t, that’s when I’m in Ibiza.
Just wishing I could get back over to Cannes; used to go every summer.
(Not to call out anyone specific here, but peruse #vacation for some good social media examples.)
There are a few caveats: Of course, traveling is a good, worthwhile thing to do. We should all try to see the world as much as possible, and exposure to different histories, cultures and ways of life are more mind-enhancing than the best drugs you can buy. And you should talk about where you go; that’s your life and how you spend chose to spend your time.
But place-droppers aren’t interested in talking about the experience itself; just checking the boxes of status. Place-dropping is not when someone genuinely and excitedly says they got back from an amazing trip to Spain and starts recounting the jaw-dropping sites they’ve seen. That is of value and merit; it’s also sincere. It’s not when a seasoned traveler goes to London for the hundredth time and mentions it because this time they really had a chance to take in the old castles.
Place-dropping is when someone casually mentions another Turks and Caicos trip because they’ve been going every summer for the last 10 years; haven’t you? There are no interesting details or insights; they simply went to the place and did the thing, so now you know you’re supposed to think they are cool and rich, or something.
The real crime in place-dropping is not much different than the crime of any bad conversationalist: You’re talking about yourself too much. But I’m talking about a place, you will now insist. No, you’re talking about how you went to that place. You’re talking about how you were rich enough to afford the trip and a nanny to watch the kids while you were gone.
Place-droppers are perhaps just like the kids in middle school who noticed everyone was wearing a polo shirt so they ran out and got one. They aren’t even sure if they liked it! They just correctly downloaded that everyone else liked it and thus aspired to wear one. (Reads about how everyone is going to Provence in The New York Times; books trip to Provence.) In a post-celebrity world where social media has turned likes into a virtual fame-counter for normies, we’re all reaching for the polo shirt still. And experience has replaced celebrity or other vague status symbols as an easy shorthand for Succeeding at Life…