This is a post that I have wanted to write for some time. I have touched on it in a few other posts in the past. That is, social media and its influence in our lives.
However in this, I wanted to talk about how social media has changed, and perhaps ruined the travel experience.
The World is forever evolving, and we evole with it. We adapt to the slight and subtle changes that are made, so that we suddenly cannot live without them. Remember when we first got ‘chip and pin’ for our bank cards? Now its all about contactless. All for our convienence of course.
In the same instance, the evolution of technology has changed the travelling exeperience, in such a short time.
When I was 17, I went on my first solo trip to the USA. I stayed with a friend, and made contact with my parents via email every few days.
When I returned, I shared photos (printed of course) and stories. Nowadays, we don’t even print photos, and all our travel experiences are shared in seconds. So what happens when you get back? No one is interested in your round the World trip. They’ve followed you and seen in great detail what you’ve been doing.
Social Media and the death of Mystery
One of the most excting things about travelling is the unknown, or so it used to be. Years ago, I remember visiting some family friends who had been on a trip to the Middle East and other exotic sounding locations. We sat around in their living room, being shown pictures via a slide show, whilst given a verbal overview of the country and its people.
This is one of my earliest memories of the World, and that there was so much more to see outside of my hometown. I saw pictures, and heard stories, but there was still an air of mystery. I wanted to see it, feel it, and experience it for myself.
I recently got to experience this for real, when I was whisked away on a mystery trip overseas. I showed up at the airport with a passport and no idea where I was going and what I was doing.
When I met my friend and our destination was revealed, I had a sudden urge to look up things to do.
The internet and social media is helpful, but it also kills the mysterty of a destination or place. You can now experience the World via a few taps on a smartphone. Through live stories and videos, you see and hear it all.
Back in the 80s, the buggles sang a song called ‘video killed the radio star’. Perhaps we should now be saying the internet killed the travel experience?
Expectation Vs Reality
Hand in hand with social sharing your travels, comes crushed realities of a destination. Disappointment that it didn’t look how you expected.
I will be travelling again in the New Year, to a number of different countries, including the Philippines.
I have done some research online via travel blogs, as well as through Instagram. This has revealed to me some incredible shots, and as such as added to my expectations of what I will see and experience.
Through the use of social media, we gain an image of a destination, and when it doesn’t quite look like that, it may make you rate that destination as a lesser place to visit.
I experienced this some years ago when visiting the great Ocean Road in Australia. I had read a number of articles, and looked at many photos, and got excited about what I would see.
I was really looking forward to the iconic 12 Apostles. My expectation was something like this:
In reality, this is what I arrived to:
A rainy semi crowded spot with terrible visability.
Does this make for a rubbish destination or place to visit? Of course not!
You could say that travel brochures and books used to have the same effect, but I feel that social media has brought the books to life.
Living in the moment
With the increase in use of social media, comes of our lack of ability to live in the moment. Travelling used to be about a range of experiences and fully immersing in those experiences.
Nowadays, it is all about capturing that perfect photograph to be shared online.
When travelling in Morocco at the start of the year, I visited a beautiful palace building with intricate details on the walls. Whilst there, I watched for some time as this beautiful girl posed for someone for a good 20 minutes. She would casually stare in the distance, as if she did not know she was being photographed, and get frsutrated when people would walk into her shot.
I am sure she did get the shot she was looking for, but it did take a long time.
Плохие новости для тех, кто собрался в Марракеш, чтобы сделать подобные фоточки. Популярное место у блогеров – Медресе Бен Юсеф закрыли на ремонт. Говорят, на год или больше. Зная скорость марокканцев, откроется она как минимум через 2 года. Sad news for those who want the same pictures. Madrasa Ben Youssef is closed for renovation.
When I went backpacking in Asia some years ago, I would easily meet people in hostels and on tours, and talk with them. Entering a hostel now, you’ll see a bunch of like minded people gluded to their phones or electronic devices.
I know it is ironic that I am writing this online, and will be sharing it on my social media channels. It has really made me think, and I want to challenge myself to travel differently in the coming months and years.