The Role of Social Media in Travel: Is it Destroying the Travel Experience?
As Someone Who Uses Social Media in Travel as a Business:
I am appalled at some of the lengths that people go to for the perfect selfie or for the perfect Instagram shot.
Between taking jovial selfies at Auschwitz and draping themselves all over priceless historical relics, I am not exaggerating when I say that these people make me want to vomit.
And don’t even get me started on all the people who see a sign that says no pictures and blatantly ignore it to have a little mini photo shoot.
It’s Like somehow In Their Alternate Universe:
The rules just don’t apply to them because obviously, their needs supersede those of society as a whole.
Talk about Self-Absorbed to the Extreme. The Worst Part About Travel and Social Media.
So as a micro-influencer (like super micro to the extreme):
I want to apologize for the behavior of many (not all) individuals in the social media and travel industry.
Their attempts to use social media for travel, to increase their prestige, are not cute, pleasant, or endearing in any way, shape, or form.
It’s Gross and Needs to Stop ASAP.
But the question isn’t, “do influencers do ridiculous things to obtain the ‘perfect shot’ for Instagram?’
Of Course, they Do!
Heck, I even sometimes fall into this trap and let my social media influence travel decisions.
But in truth:
You need to remember why influencers are on social media. They use it to sell products. Therefore, creating the perfect shot is an ideal way to market themselves, increase profits, and increase follower numbers.
Socialmedia has obviously changed how and why people take photos while they travel.
So let’s dig a little deeper and look at the ever-evolving relationship between social media and travel.
How Social Media Affects Travel (AKA Is Social Media Ruining Travel?)
As someone who loathes the self-absorbed circus of perfect photos that social media has become, I want to say yes.
A Thousand Times Yes!
I want to shout from the rooftops that social media has destroyed the captivating spirit of travel; a spirit of discovery that stems from the never-ending quest to meet new people and experience dynamic, foreign cultures.
And if I see Another Selfie Stick, I May Just Puke.
However, In My Rush To Judge People:
I had to take a step back and objectively examine how social media has changed travel.
A Perfect Example of This?
The rise of the Instagram blog post. You know, that details the ten best Instagram spots in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
I’ve even written a few of these myself.
And afterward, I hated myself for hopping on the travel for social media bandwagon.
But at the end of the day, bloggers write about what people want to read. I mean, if no one read our blogs then we wouldn’t have much of a business now, would we?
And in Today’s Society:
People want to read about the best places to take Instagram photos around the globe.
People take unfollowing WAY too personally
So On the Surface, Yes! It Seems Like Social Media Influences Travel Decisions and Ruins Travel!
Because In Today’s World:
People appear to travel not for travel’s sake but to share their experience on social media as a way to obtain personal validation through the various and comments they receive online.
Instead of Embracing the Joy and Excitement of the Imperfect Now:
Social media enthusiasts seem obsessed with the expertly crafted photos of a perfect fantasy world that exists only on the social media accounts of like-minded people.
Rather Than Enjoy the Imperfect Life that Beautifully Unfolds Before Them:
They become entrenched in the neverending cycle of social media obsession; the more time you spend on social media, the more obsessed you become with other people and the perfect photos they share of their seemingly perfect lives.
(PS Their lives are not perfect. But no way are they gonna show you their massive food baby or the epic blowout that they just had with their Instagram husband. And no, I don’t share these things on my social media accounts either because yes, I do have some semblance of vanity and yes, I am very imperfect)
As a Result:
You begin to feel inferior for the multitude of imperfections that make you perfectly human. You then spend days, not traveling per say, but hopelessly wandering the globe, searching for a perfect photo and a perfect life that simply doesn’t exist.
Pretty Bleak Right?
But Maybe It’s Not My Place to Judge How People Travel
The more I thought about the relationship between social media and tourism, the more I realized that I have no right to judge how others choose to travel.
I mean really, who do I think I am?
Sure, social media has irreversibly altered how and why people travel, but so what?
Change is inevitable. It always has been and always will be.
And if someone wants to travel for social media, that is their choice and it’s not up to me to judge them or tell them how to live their life.
If it makes them happy to take selfies all day and obsess about the perfect Instagram photo then good for them!
I sometimes wish I had that type of patience because then my Instagram account would be 10,000 times better.
And Let’s Be Real (Get it? Since social media isn’t real? Okay, I’ll stop):
I use social media in the same exact way, So it’d be a bit hypocritical to judge these people too harshly for some of the very things that I myself do.
Within Reason Mind You.
I am not condoning breaking laws or doing anything immoral for a photo op.
Social Media, like anything else in the world, isn’t totally evil. Sorry, but life is never that black and white.
Like most things, social media can be used for good.
I know it has connected me with a group of like-minded women who I would never have met otherwise; a group that makes me feel like I am never truly alone and that no matter where I go, I will always have friends to greet me, hug me, and tell me that is going to be okay.
And Don’t Even Get Me Started on How Inspiring Social Media Can Be:
I have seen so many exquisite things and have created so many enchanting memories as a result of social media; a platform that has exponentially expanded my travel horizons.
Because with Social Media, the Possibilities Really are Endless.
All I have to do is go to places like Facebook, click on a video, and BOOM, I’m transported to another corner of the world that I didn’t even know existed.
So rather than examine how social media has changed travel and accuse social media of ruining travel:
Maybe Individuals need to Look at their Personal Relationship with Social Media and Travel.
So excluding any truly Abhorrent Behavior:
People living in our social media-saturated society need to focus less on social media itself and more on how it makes them feel.
Social media can lift us up, inspire us, and expose us to a world that we would never have otherwise known.
It can also tear us apart, make us feel inferior, and force us to abandon reality for a fantasy world that will never exist.
But is Social Media Entirely to Blame?
Perhaps individuals need to take personal responsibility for their actions and accept that social media makes us as miserable, anxious, and depressed as we want to be.
Because the more you compare yourself to others and focus on all the things you don’t have, the more discontent you will be.
So if You Find that Social Media is Tearing You Down:
Don’t let it! Your relationship with social media is your own. So if social media is consuming your life and affecting the relationships that you have with friends and family, then it’s time to change your relationship with social media.
Because you are the only one that can let the perfect pictures on social media make you feel like crap about yourself,
I also challenge you to think about how your relationship with social media actually affects other people.
Because in reality:
You don’t live in a vacuum and it isn’t all about you.
Believe it or not:
Your actions do affect other people; something that we all need to think about a bit more (me included).
As a Collective Whole:
We need to stop and think about what our social media impact will be.
Will we neglect our personal relationships in a vain attempt to gain validation from total strangers online? Or will we strive for a life of balance, where social media is used to inspire others and remind them that in this tech-obsessed world of ours, anything is possible?
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
And it’s not my place to judge how anyone lives their life or their social media strategy for the travel industry.
I truly believe that people across the globe should have the freedom to live the life they want, even if it means traveling in pursuit of social media perfection.
What I Do Ask Though Is:
Take a hard look at yourself and think about how social media makes you feel and the impact that your actions have on the world around you.
Because When You Take an Inappropriate Photo (and that’s putting it mildly) when Using Social Media Marketing for the Travel Industry:
It not only changes you but it hurts the people around you who are offended by your, impulsive actions.
Agree? Disagree? Think it’s All a Load of Humbug?
Let me know in the comments below!
I want to hear from you and how you think that social media has changed the way we travel.
Has social media had a positive or negative effect on the way you live your life?
I want to know it all!
As always though, keep it classy, not trashy.