I do not suffer from social media phobia.
I think there are great things that can happen as a result of immediate and unlimited connectivity. You can crowd source an entire travel itinerary by sending out a single tweet. But as Voltaire and Stan Lee once said, “With great power comes responsibility,” and too much of a good thing can feel like your stomach at the end of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
1. You can only have fun if everyone knows you are having fun.
One of the greatest things about travel is the ability to turn your everyday myopic vision of the world into something broader. You hear, see, touch, smell, and feel like you wouldn’t back home.
Turning this multi-sensory experience into a one-line description on your Facebook timeline is like paraphrasing Othello into a tweet. I understand the urge to share the amazing experiences you’ve had – I’ve been inspired to travel solely based on the travel stories I have read. But the immediacy with which we share experiences, to announce it to the world as it is, dilutes our collective experience.
It’s fun to show off a bit – the world should know you are in Cabo and that CABO IS AMAZING <3. But if the premise of your vacation rests around checking into places and staring into your phone instead of looking at the person across the table, then why travel at all?
2. If you don’t have a record of it online, it will cease to exist.
Every time I return from a holiday, I bump into a friend who seems slightly skeptical of my travel tales, primarily because I’ve left no online footprints of the experience.
“Oh! You went to Australia…but I didn’t see any pictures on Facebook or Instagram.”
We are absorbed in an inescapable web of oversharing, so much so that information that isn’t loud, visible, and hash-tagged to death somehow feels like it didn’t happen.
I’m all for frivolity and fun. One should enjoy sharing as many pictures of sunsets and margaritas as one needs to, but when oversharing mingles with those perfectly manicured one-dimensional tales of our travels, we are left with social media equivalents of a travel brochure – beautiful yet banal images with generic copy.
Imagine this: We are in complete control of the images we present to the world – the sea sparkles, the food looks delicious, the monuments are stupendous. It’s spectacular to look at, but it lacks soul. It completely betrays the very essence of travel that resides in our ability to relinquish control.
3. Your vacation has to be cooler/more adventurous/more exotic than someone else’s.
I was 12 when Titanic hit theatres. Every teenage girl I knew fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. I wanted to be different, so I pretended to hate him (though I secretly etched our names in hearts). Conversely, when everybody at school loved Linkin Park , I pretended to love them despite detesting them. I wanted to be cool.
Fast forward several years, and we have amidst us an extension of this high school phenomenon. It’s called “Facebook envy” – you either want to be someone else or be better than someone else.
Last year about a dozen people on my friend’s list went to Greece. Suddenly, I was entirely disenchanted by the idea of Santorini. Nothing changed factually – Greece was just as popular as it was the year before. But I wanted to go where no one else was going. I was inadvertently falling into the “Hidden Gem” trap. It’s easy to forget that no matter where you go, there is enough of the world left to make your own experiences.
When you see someone jump out of a plane, tent under the stars, or ride a balloon across Egypt, it’s easy to drown in comparisons. But travel is not marked on a scale where valuable experiences are proportionate to how much money you spend or how far you go. Comparisons are detrimental to travel. As a wise person once said, “The only comparisons you should make while traveling are those pertaining to flight tickets.”