How social media is destroying our generation of travellers…

There is no denying it: technology and social media are taking over and finding their way into our lives left, right and centre.

The vast majority of us are signed up to and are active on at least one form of social media, and for many of us this reaches four or five platforms, including (but not exclusively) Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr. In many cases, the use of apps and social networks allows us to complete tasks with ease, convenience and efficiency when travelling. At the same time though, there are many downsides, and something that has recently been bothering me is the impact of social media on meaningful travel experiences.

This article isn’t to say that we should stop using technology altogether, but I certainly think the dangers that I’m about to mention are definitely something we need to take on board and bear in mind whilst we are travelling…

That is, if we still want to see the growth, independence and personal development that is so widely adored by travellers.

I have spent the last 18 months travelling full-time and meeting travellers and influences all over the world. While, of course, this article doesn’t apply to everyone… I have noticed a massive shift in travel, and the future of travel scares me a little.

So, here we have it. Here are my thoughts on the topic.

No doubt my points may be controversial, but this is honestly how I feel.

How Social Media Is Destroying Our Generation Of Travellers | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

How social media is ruining travel experiences and how to overcome it…

  • We are obsessed with other people’s travels and copying them…

There’s inspiration and then there’s imitation. You can be led to a destination because of the beauty someone has captured there, but be careful to not be led to the exact moment they captured and don’t get obsessed with recreating it. Why? Because you never, ever, ever will. Create your own memories.

  • We already know what’s coming…

Again, browsing your favourite travel channels is a great way to research where you’re going, to create a cracking itinerary, and to get excited about your trip. Just make sure you leave some of the excitement til you get there. Don’t spend every minute living through their Snapchats, Insta pics, Facebook updates and tweets. Leave some beauty to be discovered. Leave some surprise, something to blow your mind. The best things in life really are the unexpected things.

  • We are too focused on getting ‘the shot’…

So often now, we visit a destination or landmark to get a pretty picture, but forget to invest time in any of the history or culture surrounding the location. Dig deeper into your travels and explore them by depth.

  • We end up capturing for other people’s benefit…

Photos are a great way to capture memories and it’s pretty much a given that you will take a camera on holiday. Just make sure you are taking photos for your enjoyment and not to show off to other people.

  • We are too busy storytelling and not actually living…

As part of the most documented generation yet, even the average person updates the internet with what they are eating and the sunset spots they have found. As a travel blogger, it’s part of the job to do this and all at a completely different level. The danger is that you spend your life trying to show how much fun you’re having, instead of just having fun.

  • We have high expectations…

There is literally nothing you can’t do to a photo with the apps available these days. You can isolate and change every colour you wish, you can insert starry skies, you can add a fish eye and you can cut and copy objects to duplicate their existence {e.g. stars}. It honestly makes me question every photo I look at now. Enhanced pictures can lead you to a disappointing reality. So just bear that in mind when you look at photographer’s work. It’s art, not always reality.

  • We aren’t capturing natural moments as much…

I kinda miss disposable cameras and the devices we used before digital technology became popular. Now we are so obsessed with how we look in photos that we miss the natural capture and end up with posed and sometimes lifeless, forced memories.

  • We would rather have a high phone bill than talk to the person next to us…

When I was in the Philippines without a phone, I honestly felt like I was truly travelling again. I felt challenged, and I felt lost. I felt confused at times. All of this made me inquisitive, conscious and actually… pretty excited. I love the potential growth that comes with travelling, and often the most awkward situations lead us to those exact developments. However, with a phone to hand we often duck out of ‘travelling’ and FaceTime home or switch on our data roaming. That’s not to say either of those are wrong or don’t have their places, but we need to be mindful that we are actually fulfilling the purpose of our travels.

  • We are using our phone to avoid social awkwardness rather than over coming it…

Social media has become a tool that we use as a resort when we feel nervous or awkward. Instead of developing our social skills, we often resort to our phones as an easy way to avoid the situation. This means we don’t communicate with people as much {and communication is key to human happiness} and actually these days I find I come across a lot of social awkwardness. It’s as if people have forgotten how to hold a conversation!

  • We aren’t using intuition or self-navigation; there’s an app for everything…

There are so many awesome apps that make our lives so much easier and increase our overall efficiency. However, when it comes to travel, this can take away from some of the beauty. Next time you get lost in a city, challenge yourself to ask someone for directions, or to observe signs before you open up Google Maps. It could lead to you starting a random conversation, or to the biggest adventure opportunity of your life… you never know! Make room for doors to be opened and remember to look up from your phone.

  • We are letting photos justify our existence and our experiences…

As they say, if you didn’t capture it, did it really happen?

How sad is that? Yes, yes, it did happen. Memories don’t always have to be shared.

Sometimes the best moments are ones you don’t even get a chance to think about capturing. Memories are just as special when they are kept just for yourself. Sometimes there is no art that could justify an experience, and it should just be left for the pleasure of the people there.

  • We get stressed about social media…

What caption should I write? Does this picture go with my colour palette? Do I have that perfect, ‘How’s your Monday’ shot?

All these things are absolutely fine, but not when it comes at the cost of actually enjoying your travels. Even I am guilty of this.

  • We feel the need to ‘tick’ off countries and ‘see everywhere’…

I was once this person. But let me tell you, after 12 months of racing through 29 countries, there is so much more enjoyment in spending more time in less places. How much of a culture can you truly experience in one or two days somewhere? Not much…

Isn’t that what travel is about? Seeing the world through other people’s eyes? Getting to know locals and letting them take you to random places beyond your imagination?

That is really the pinacle of this article.

What has travel become?

A way to show off and boost your ego?

A way to create visually pleasing art?

How much growth are we restricting with the use of social media? How much money are we wasting on experiences in this day and age just to ‘up our social media’?

I am guilty of many things in this article, and because travelling and capturing these moments is my career, I especially find myself in a constant battle with all of the above.

The way forward?

Be mindful, be conscious.

Admittedly we do have to go with the times. It’s not realistic for me to suggest that everyone should bin their phones. But I do think we need to be very careful not to sabotage what is one of life’s greatest pleasures… travel.

All for what, an Instagram shot?

I would literally love to hear your thoughts on the subject. How has social media affected YOUR life? How has it affected YOUR travel experiences?

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

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