Is Social Media Ruining How We Travel?
Is social media ruining how we travel?
I realize this is a pretty loaded question, so let me first preface this article with my sentiments of how much I have grown to appreciate the reach of social media. As a fairly new blogger, it has created so many opportunities for me to meet new people, network and collaborate on interesting writing projects, showcase my love for photography and share my adventures.
Particularly for full-time, location independent bloggers, social media can certainly be a wonderful thing – but is it changing how you actually travel?
For me, travel has always been a way to connect to life; to readjust my focus on “the big picture” and ground myself through acquiring new experiences: learning about new cultures and languages and religions; being shaken from my preconceived notions and taken-for-granted understandings of the world. It has always made me re-evaluate who I am and the life I want to live. But as I live in Tanzania and attempt to make it as a travel blogger, I note this feeling is harder and harder to attain.
Perhaps it is because our society has become so heavily inundated with visual images and videos, our experience of reality has become intricately tied to our electronic devices and social media. But when did it take over?
Sometimes it feels we have become so fixated with ‘likes’ and ‘follow counts’, or of what is trending or marketable, that it’s actually ruining authentic travel.
I recall my solo trip backpacking through India last year – with no laptop, no local SIM card and no travel blog, I was a lot more free to be spontaneous and in the moment. Not having Wifi for days could not have bothered me less – I didn’t have a real need for it. I had made peace with the act of doing nothing and would happily sit in a café devouring an entire novel or meditate through the morning in a temple. It was the most mindful and perhaps the most at peace I have ever felt.
Now as a blogger, my experience abroad in Tanzania is completely different. I find myself navigating the new responsibilities of running a website and the priorities that come along with it. The trouble is, these priorities compete with the aspect of travel I hold so near and dear: The beautiful moments of self-reflection that arise through one’s uninterrupted thoughts; the adventure of wandering and getting purposely lost; or the awe-struck feeling of learning something new through a novel experience.
How can we attain the wonder and marvel that comes along with traveling the world when we’re so fixated with the ‘online world’ we’ve created?
Before coming to Africa, I anticipated that I would have ample inspiration and time to really focus on my blog and expanding its content and reach.
There was only one problem: I stopped enjoying it.
I mean, isn’t time spent traveling supposed to be care-free and fun? Instead, as I attempt to take my blogging to a more serious level, I find myself feeling the opposite: worried about meeting deadlines, frustrated about unreliable Wi-Fi connections and anxious about upcoming media collaborations.
I got so caught up with what I would post on social media, that I wasn’t truly present while traveling. Instead of fully absorbing my surroundings and taking in the new sights and sounds, I was attempting to “document” what I was doing. I was viewing life through the screen of my phone instead of actually experiencing it.
So, we’ve come back to my fully loaded question: is social media ruining how we travel?
I think it ultimately comes down to each person and their values and priorities. I also think that it’s important for each of us to consider how social media is influencing our daily lives – whether we are traveling or not.
For me? You can still expect to find me active on social media – but I will be trying to bring travel back to its basics…to its most authentic experience.
Is social media ruining travel?
Is it changing how you travel?
How do you find a balance?
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comment section!