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HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGES WHAT IT MEANS TO TRAVEL

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGES WHAT IT MEANS TO TRAVEL



Back in the days, people would travel to exotic tropical islands and during their trip they would paint, take panoramic pictures, and write about their mini adventures. When travelling with group, they most likely have a few shots of group photos to commemorate who they travelled with. Solo traveler tends to come home with only photos of the places visited, things seen, to show people the experience.

These days however, more and more travelers would rather take selfies of themselves with bits of landmark in the background because obviously it’s more important to capture clear, photogenic, close-up images of their faces than to show the majestic places they visited.

Traveling seems to have become a carefully planned Instagram project, and a Facebook album showcase; cities and landmark are now subjects to hashtag. We do our best to look our best in every photo; and we critique our own snapshots quite heavily. We have no mercy. So what if this picture captured the perfect moonlight over fireflies flying above the rice field? “This photo of me in front of the Pyramid can’t be posted online because my nose looks way too big in it”. Sounds familiar?


Today’s generation is the most fortunate compared to the generation before us. We have the option to travel around the world on budget. Yet we glue our faces on our gadgets every waking hour, because a notification continues to beep, signaling that someone just “like” the photo of Pina Colada and sunset we posted. Thank goodness every bar on the beaches in Bali provides free wifi, how else would we go about our day? There is no way to justify sipping this Coconut with the beautiful scenery around us if we can’t take a snap and make sure all 2000 of our Facebook friends know about it!


Don’t get me wrong, I am pro technology and social media. There are a lot of good things people do during their travels by posting what they see and do on social media. Internet access is also necessary at some level to get informed about the areas that you visited, nearby events, and even researching the local customs and laws. Keeping in touch with family and friends by showing your vacation photos is also important, so at a certain level, your need of internet access is by no means have to be completely dismissed.

However, more and more people travelling are completely dependent on their gadgets even while they are on vacation. It seems as though all their activities are designed to fit the need of later publishing it on Facebook, Instagram, Path, or what have you – instead of the purity of absorbing the experience itself. Travel journalists need not complain; you are, of course, an exception.

It is not the technology or social media’s fault that our society turns into groups of hashtags and likes addicts. It’s all ours. There are countless of people using this for the better of all humanity. These are the ones who travel not for the sake of selfies, but for encounter with foreign land and the people. One project I admire, for example, is Brandon and his “Humans of New York” project. He simply started walking around in New York City, and take photos of people he saw, and talk to them. He then posted the snap shot and the words that person said. What he does is a very simple concept, yet very inspiring. He then expanded his travel to Ukraine, Iran, and many other countries, doing the exact same thing.
What started as a hobby posted on tumblr has turned into an entire book and more.

So, there are people out there utilizing the fusion power of social media and technology to expose one part of the world to another, and there are those who just want to expose two thousand different poses of their faces with bits of other part of the world, to the virtual world they live in.

As you can see, the first problem here is the constant need of free high speed internet access – because how else will you post your selfies from every restaurant you dine at? The second, lack of interest in deep rooted cultures of the place you’re visiting. The worst, is comparing the places you visit to where you came from, and then complaining about it in less than 48 hours upon arrival. Stop. Look around. Experience. Put your gadgets away for an hour or two, and walk.

So if you happen to be reading this while you’re in Bali, ask yourself if you’ve truly experienced the real Bali. Whatever you think the answer is, take a walk. Take a hike. Take a look around. Talk to local ladies selling coffee in small warungs – because why not. Embrace the magic of this Island the way it supposed to be embraced. Not the Instagram way.



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