Tainted travels: A generation of online braggers

Holidays, vacations, backpacking, volunteering and travelling – all of which are a notion of freedom, and a form of escape; so why doesn’t it feel like it when I’m scrambling to take a picture of this damn dolphin – please, just come back so all my friends can see that I’m enjoying myself at an aquarium with you – or when I’m cussing because there’s no WiFi to check us in on Facebook…we’re at the Eiffel Tower, everyone needs to know, okay?

Facebook Girl goes on holiday.
Image Source: Memestache

It’s pretty clear that we’re a generation of online braggers, where everything we do, see and say needs to be published and documented on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Flickr (you name it, we’ve got it); so much so that we, Australians, are officially the world’s most Facebook addicted country according to this survey conducted by Tourism Australia. 73% of the 1,000 Facebook users surveyed came clean, and admitted to proactively checking their social media networks of their friends whilst they are on holiday, and more than half confessed they update their status or post photos to not only share but show-off their holiday adventures to family and friends.

In an earlier post,we addressed how mobile technology and online media has benefited our travels, but in doing so, how has it also altered and essentially tainted our holiday experience? Have we become a heap of self-promotional, self-obsessed, overindulgent robots who are sapping the true meaning of travelling? Spoiler – probably. Here’s why maybe it’s time to cut back on frantically choosing a cool filter on Instagram and coming up with a half-assed witty caption, and enjoy the view:

Even your cat thinks so.
Image Source: Kulfoto

Enjoying? The view? What’s that? One of our Twitter followers, Baby Zoomers, made a really good point in the tweet below:

Image Source: ANSLP Twitter

Everyone is always seized with the desire to update Facebook, take photos and tweet about everything as it happens; I am guilty as charged, because I’m thinking, who wouldn’t want to see this dolphin?! The point of a holiday however, at least for me, is to experience, eat and see new things, but by constantly using social media, we’ve made it impossible to feel and take the simple pleasure in the ‘escapism’ factor of our holidays; instead of truly immersing and enjoying ourselves in the place that we’re in, we’re too busy staring at our phones and worrying that we aren’t taking enough photos.

On a similar note, this pressure to constantly post and update our networks robs us of true insight. The focus is on getting it done and getting it noticed, rather than the value or quality of what we’re actually saying. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all stopped spewing the excessive, (maybe) redundant nonsense, and spent more time learning about what we’re seeing and experiencing?

Once upon a time, before Instagram…
Image Source: Peter From Texas

“Take lots of photos while you’re gone!!!” How many times have you said or heard this? Pretty much any time I go anywhere or do anything. It seems that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to take a minimum of 50 photos of every waking moment; going to a party? Buying a new vacuum cleaner? Instagram that sh*t. People (myself included) spend so much time trying to take photos on their horrible quality iPhone and post it on Instagram, or lugging their 5000 pound DSLR camera around, that they miss out on actually enjoying the moment they are trying to capture or ‘immortalize’ – to be dramatic.

A little personal back story if you’ll allow: The first time I went to a rock concert was overseas in Singapore with my dad (no shame!), and I was trying to take as many photos and videos as the rowdy crowd and the chaotic lighting of a mosh pit will allow – but alas, to no avail. My dad took the camera away from me and basically schooled me at a rock concert – he told me to just relish being there in the moment, listen to the music and headbang as I pleased; besides, no one needs another out of focused photo of Linkin Park anyway…

So what do you think? Has online and social media affected your holiday?

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One response to “Tainted travels: A generation of online braggers

  1. On the one hand, I agree that documenting your experience can take away from that experience. That was true even before social media, I think. You just have to find a balance.

    On the other hand, I think having a camera handy makes a place you’re not terribly interested in come alive because—at least for me—trying to find something interesting to take a picture of makes me pay more attention, and perhaps not take it for granted.

    I was away from home for a few days this past week and had limited Internet access. The first 24 hours were rough, but then I began to enjoy my social-media diet. That’s heresy, isn’t it?

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