Instagram has become huge over the last couple of years, with people even managing to fund their travels from discreet, and sometimes not so discreet, advertising on their pages. Those of us who love Instagram will all follow people that live these seemingly amazing lives, constantly travelling from one incredible destination to another. Posting an abundance of photos every day, are these ‘InstaTravellers’ really able to enjoy their time away when their focus is so heavily orientated towards promoting themselves on social media?
Looking closer to home, we all have that one person on Facebook or Instagram who always seems to be off on a new adventure – ensuring they clog up our newsfeeds in the process. If you don’t, the chances are it’s probably you! Nowadays it’s rare that any of our friends go on holiday without uploading hundreds of photos of their amazing adventures along the way. Gone are the days of photo albums created after a trip; we are now fortunate enough to experience day by day updates of every bikini, every cocktail and every sunset. With birds-eye photos of every meal (#foodporn) and go-pro shots from 14,000 feet, it’s no surprise that more people died taking selfies this year than were killed by sharks.
This raises the question: is social media and our overwhelming compulsion to share our lives with others ruining our travel experiences? Should we not be focussing more on enjoying our time in each country we visit, rather than planning our trips around getting the perfect Facebook cover photo? Can we really, truly immerse ourselves in another culture, surely a major reason for travelling? If we are constantly worrying about where we are going to find the next internet café or plug socket to charge our dying iPhones. Should we be concentrating on disconnecting from social media as part of the travelling process and experiencing another country? If it reaches the stage that we are disappointed when we cannot post our travel photos online, or are letting our dinners go cold for the perfect Instagram picture, are we really travelling for ourselves, or for our social media following?
I appreciate the desire to show people exactly where you went and what you got up to; explaining that unbelievable view from the top of Machu Picchu, that pristine desert island, or the time you got within a couple of metres of one of the ‘Big five’ just isn’t the same as showing them a photo. After all, we are told a picture says a 1000 words!
Perhaps there is a happy compromise? Taking photos of our adventures, but not worrying about whether they make it online. Limiting our social media intake to weekly rather than daily updates. Appreciating that sometimes a moment is more beautiful when you aren’t looking at it through a lens, and that the memory of the experience will suffice. Make sure that you get the most out of every travelling experience, and don’t let a dead battery ruining your day!