I was browsing through the ‘gram the other day when I noticed something that was both hilarious and horrifying to me in equal measures on one of my stories: A fellow Travel Blogger was trying to teach aspiring Bloggers how to take the perfect Insta travel selfie – as you can probably imagine, it involved pretending to laugh (to assure friends and followers that you are having SUCH a great time), not looking at the camera while staring pensively off into the distance, making sure that everything in the shot is colour coordinated and perfectly asymmetrical, blah, blah, blah.
Can we just hold up a second please and assess that scenario? I feel like we really need to acknowledge the way that our Instagram accounts are shaping the way that we travel the world (and not for the better).
Travelling used to be something that people did out of a genuine desire to see the world – the sights, sounds and smells of a new country, the chance to finally see that fascinating wonder that we have day-dreamed about for years.
I’ve travelled a lot, but let me give you a “for instance” here. I remember the excitement of arriving in front of the pyramids in Cairo a few years ago with my then boyfriend. We snapped a handful of photos of us posing awkwardly in front of the Sphinx and then went about our day exploring, haggling, trialing questionable foods and speaking with locals. The photos that we took, and the actual time involved in taking them, took up such a small and insignificant portion of our day and it was certainly not the main focus of our time.
Flash forward to today, and you have people scrolling frantically through their camera reel, analysing their travel photos to an obscene degree and questioning whether or not it is good enough to go on Instagram. Solo travelers linger around waiting for the crowds to pass so that they can set up their tripods or whip out their selfie sticks, and couples take it in turns to play photographer. Large chunks of the day are transformed into a photo shoot which of course is followed by the aftermath of critiquing, filtering, and uploading the photos to the ‘gram, and waiting for the likes and follows to come flooding in (aka the validation).
It has to stop. I am concerned for the new wave of travelers because I really feel that by making your Instagram account the focal point of your adventure, you are missing out on all that is truly beautiful about traveling.
Travellers are becoming so preoccupied with capturing everything on their stories, they are not fully appreciative of the scenes that are unfolding around them. Travelling should be a way to “get away from it all” but these individuals simply cannot take the time to disconnect from social media, and fully immerse themselves in the travel experience.
Stop comparing yourself and your travel pictures to the perfectly preened Insta women sitting at the top of mountains in long flowing dresses. More than likely, they’ve had to sacrifice several other (much more fulfilling) activities in order to set up that shot. Besides, how many women posing in floppy canvas hats does this world need? We are finding ourselves with a global army of Insta clones.
I accept that everyone wants to return from their travels with photos that they can look back on and smile at, and everyone wants to feel that the snap is at least somewhat flattering. Taking photos is okay, obsessing over their quality isn’t. So next time you are travelling, use your Instagram as an accompaniment for your adventure, rather than the pinnacle which it revolves around.
Candid photos of you genuinely laughing and joking with new found travel friends and hiking a mountain looking all sweaty yet satisfied are the ones that you are going to look back upon in years to come and remember the great time that you had, not the ones which required an outfit change, a makeup touch up, the purchasing of props and generally staging the shot. Remember that.
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