In an age of new technology and a massive growth spurt in social media use, many of us spend our mornings, as soon as we open our eyes, or even in the evening before we close our eyes, scrolling through social media (see: Instagram) to see the lives that other people are living out. Daily, we’re faced with posts of what people look like, what people wear, what people eat, and most envy-inducing of all, what some people get to do and where they get to travel.
From celebrities to travel bloggers to even your high school friends, everyday we’re exposed to various picturesque images of breath-taking landscapes, crystal-clear waters on a sunny beach or even the ever-so-popular window-from-a-plane shot of the clouds in the sky, creating a fire within that sparks a sudden desire to travel. But is the trip overseas for the sake of immersion in another culture and personal development or it simply to document and show-off the luxe and freedom of being able to take a well-done picture that just has to be shared online?
Studies have shown that travelling overseas for foreign exploration and language development allows for a broader cultural knowledge, forging long-term friendships and even navigating difficult situations through independence. The fear and thrill of landing at an airport alone with no map or wi-fi, and even the lack of language to ask for help is an experience that tends to be learnt through the exposure of travelling.
But with the spike of technology within the last few decades, travelling has become less about the enjoyment of travelling and more for the sake of social media. It becomes less about personal development and more about ensuring that everyone knows what’s happening. Social media platforms like Instagram take away from the real experience of travelling in a foreign language, where instead of sharing the terrifying experience of having to order a simple coffee in an alien language, it’s simply a picture of said coffee with a nice filter and a simple caption about how delicious it is.
Travelling is no longer a luxury or a holiday; it becomes a job, an artform of continuously documenting sights, scenery and experiences that make others envious. But it comes with a catch. Every picture that gets shared online was worth 20 minutes of trying to capture the right picture, or worrying about not having enough battery life to sustain a few images or even worse (sarcasm), not having a good wi-fi signal to share on social media.
Ultimately, there is much to be said about travelling for the sake of travelling and not travelling with a phone always in hand looking for wi-fi connection. While yes, budget flights and cheap accommodation have opened up the world for a new breed and generation of traveller, the key to a real and wholesome travel experience is to dive into the surroundings without any distractions. This means no phones, no social media, no worrying about what everyone will think of that picture. It’s too easy to justify travel as the perfect excuse to geo-tag a bikini pic on the beaches of Hawaii, but it’s crucial to really see the virtues of travel as an opportunity for self-discovery.
Just remember, every now and again it’s fine to share a picture if you’re travelling, but do it for the sake of the experience gained from travelling, not because of the social media frenzy.