Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are often billed by older generations as the pending downfall of society. A group of millennials so engrossed in their new pieces of technology–pieces that weren’t even conceived let alone developed when I was young–will lead to the inevitable downfall of social interaction, attention spans, and humanity as a whole. Now we can add travel to that list too.
Early this morning, a piece entitled “How Instagram is Ruining Travel” was posted to the nationally acclaimed publication Conde Nast Traveller. Reading it did flash me back to numerous experiences I’ve had with fellow travelers; people who were engrossed in their phones, in taking photos and in garnering as many “Likes” or “Favorites” as they could. Essentially, utilizing incredible wonders of Earth as backdrops for social media attention.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Has social media changed how we travel, absolutely. It’s had a profound impact on not only the experiences that many people have while exploring the world, but how we document it. Photography serves a purpose. We unearth old photos of us or our loved ones, taken by our parents and stored in a shoebox in the basement until we happen upon them one afternoon, and the nostalgia comes rushing back. We want to relive these moments and the best way to do so is via photography. The memory of viewing the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids of Giza in person fades, as do the sounds and the smells and the experience. But photography doesn’t.
While feeling a bit of annoyance at seeing people looking to perfect their look before taking a photo in nature is justifiable, but to go so far as to say it’s ruining travel might be an exaggeration. These people aren’t ruining it, they’re just not experiencing it the same way that you are.
The biggest takeaway here is the fact that you don’t have to like it. You don’t have to congratulate them or like their photos. You don’t have to do anything at all. You can roll your eyes and discuss the downfall of travel as brought on by Instagram, but ultimately you have to let others do as they please. If they want to get dressed up and snap a few shots in front of a beautiful scene, that’s okay, you don’t.
If young women or young men or old women or old men want to pose, using the Grand Canyon as their backdrop, let them. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect you. The world wasn’t created for you, it was created for everyone, and everyone can enjoy it however they please. By doing so, we’ll be creating a more welcoming environment for everyone, millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and everyone else.
Simply put, there is no wrong way to travel. There is no wrong way to experience the sights and sounds of the world. Do what you please and recognize that not everyone will share those thoughts. Ultimately, don’t let it affect you, and never, ever, stop traveling.