On any given day, the breakdown of my Facebook newsfeed looks something like this: 10 per cent witty status updates, 20 per cent interesting links, 30 per cent Buzzfeed quiz results and 40 per cent travel updates from friends who are out exploring the world, often accompanied by a handful of photos from their adventures.
The same can be said for other avenues of social media as well. Photographs of dreamlike beaches and fantasy-like sunsets inhabit Instagram. Every second Snapchat notification seems to open to a drunken video of another hostel party filled with sunburnt Brits and rambunctious Aussies.
Seeing the world through my smartphone or laptop screen leads me to beg the question: if you don’t Facebook, Instagram, Tweet or Snapchat your travels every step of the way, is it really travelling?
To be clear, I admittedly wish I was the one exploring ancient ruins or enjoying a fancy drink on the beach. But this isn’t about jealousy. I’m not hating on people who are making the world their oyster while I’m stuck here in this weather trying to complete assignments and finals. This is about travelling for yourself and the sake of travelling versus travelling to rub it in everyone else’s faces that you are halfway across the world and having the time of your life.
As cliché as it may sound, travelling is a great way to discover yourself and to develop as an individual. Going to a place where you know absolutely no one and are a complete unknown gives you the opportunity to try new things, make mistakes, meet people and truly live in the moment.
Being thrown into a completely different culture teaches you valuable lessons about being independent, compassionate and open-minded. Yet technology seems to be both thwarting and altering this very experience.
We hear a lot about seizing the moment and making the most out of everyday — after all, we are the YOLO generation — but a lot of that is lost when we are too concerned with making sure we record every beach day, adventurous hike and hostel beer pong tournament.
Travelling should be about exploration, discovery and experiencing different things. It shouldn’t be about living everything through the camera on your smartphone just so you can show your friends back home. And I’m not talking sappy “Wish you were here!” moments, but rather blatantly bragging about how cool your life is on your worldly adventures while the rest of us are trying to find the right balance between school, work and play.
I’ll admit that I enjoy taking pictures and sharing stories on Facebook when I travel, but there is a limit. Once I begin to feel like I am right there beside them, even from the comforts of my homework-ridden life, I can’t help but feel like their travel intentions were skewed somewhere along the way.
When this is done, travelling becomes less about enjoying and learning and more focused on boasting about your experiences. Posting occasional updates and funny anecdotes is acceptable and even enjoyable to your friends and followers. However, uploading 20 pictures a day of the same thing and Snapchatting your every move is a bit excessive — and quite frankly, it’s annoying.
I’m a firm believer that travelling is one of the best things a person can do for themselves — especially while you’re young and without any job or relationship commitments.
While taking advantage of this, make sure to keep your level of showing off to a minimum — or at least to a respectable level. After all, you didn’t pay a thousand dollars to fly halfway across the world for my enjoyment — you did it for yourself.
Get lost trying to find your hostel, spend a day rafting and getting sunburnt and swap travel stories with new friends over cheap drinks. Revel in the moment because once it’s gone, it becomes a memory — a memory that I can’t wait to hear you share in person once you get home.
Graphic: Stephanie Mah