If Instagram did not show people that we have travelled, have we really travelled?
Now that everyone is realising the power of Facebook’s echo chamber, it seems like the right time to bring up this topic: Is social media an accurate reflection of the content you should consume OR is social media simply feeding you only what you want to read and see?
I believe more and more people are leaning towards the latter and, I’m glad this is happening. For one, I hope more of us will start to get away from Facebook for our daily news and opinion editorials. Second, I hope this ushers a new age of what it means to be a “social media influencer”. Finally, I hope brands and advertisers will understand that success on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the bigger scheme of things; you are hitting out at the same crowd over and over, and failing to see that the world is so much more than Facebook (and Instagram).
Social media is ruining how we travel too
Moving on from politics, I would like to, today, talk about how social media and the “stars” that shine so brightly on it are ruining travel from everyone else.
Our idea of what a vacation should be like has been warped. And this is no thanks to social media platforms like Instagram.
How is it that suddenly everyone’s idea of taking a holiday snap is them looking away, looking contemplative, DESPITE knowing that a camera is pointing in their face exactly 2 feet away? How is it that it’s become more important to take a picture of you lounging in your new bikini by your hotel’s swimming pool than visiting the museum or checking out the local market?
Instagram has redefined how we should be telling our travel stories. And the quality is deplorable.
It is less about going somewhere and more about showing people that you are, again, going somewhere. Cue shots of aeroplane wings and boarding passes (additional points if you are flying Business or First).
It is less about the place and more about how your clothes look against a certain wall.
It is less about the people and more about how they fit in as “props” in your Instagram shot.
It is less about enriching your mind and more about triggering envy in your followers.
In short, social media has made us shallow, superficial, and selfish travellers.
Social media is feeding us the wrong messages about what it means to live a life well-lived
If you’ve seen the Netflix series “Black Mirror”, you may recall the second episode of the first season where in the future, everyone is being compelled to consume (AND REACT TO) entertainment that is, as the protagonist puts it, “Fake fodder”. And this is how things are becoming on social media now.
“Fake fodder” that’s being passed off as spontaneous and authentic are being lapped up by a willing audience eager to live vicariously through their chosen Instagram celebrities.
“Fake fodder” are outfits that have been painstakingly planned for that perfect picture, yet in reality hardly a practical choice for an itinerary that involves walking and sweating. “Fake fodder” is beautiful photography that reveals little or nothing about the history or the life of the locals … these “fake fodder” are planting unreal notions of what it means to go somewhere and experience the place, culture, food, and people.
Most importantly, such highly choreographed content is making everyone wonder why their lives can’t be like that. Why can’t they get their act together and plan a wardrobe befitting of Bali’s beautiful beaches? Why can’t they get their husbands to co-operate just enough to help them take that “lost in the moment” picture? Why can’t they ever find the luggage space for more shoes and accessories?
In short, in our quest to create that enviable Instagram feed, we have lost sight of what it really means to travel. The consequence is often a bunch of insensitive, ignorant tourists who care more about their pictures than the history of the place they are visiting. Instead of enriching themselves and the lives of those who have so generously hosted them, they rob the place of its identity and strip it down to just a backdrop that complements the OOTD.
Social media is ruining the way we travel because we have come to believe that the Likes our photos get affirm our worth as human beings. We are no longer secure in just knowing we have visited some place new and learnt something new. We now all have the ridiculous need to “amplify” our own experience through Instagram in the hope that we might become “influencers” ourselves and “inspire” others to follow in our footsteps. It’s no longer enough for us to know we have travelled. If Instagram doesn’t have a record of it, we may as well have stayed home.
28 Oct 2016