After trekking for almost 6 hours, when we finally reached Triund, everyone started making Instagram reels instantly. People became so busy with their smartphones that they forgot why we trekked all this way. Does it ring a bell?
Well, they wanted to take a ‘picture’ of the memory instead of actually experiencing it. They put in all the effort and time to make a reel. Still doesn’t ring a bell?
Try observing people around you on your next trip. You will notice how they are busy uploading photos while missing out on the memorable sunset.
Is the definition of wanderlust now restricted to Instagram captions and Snapchat filters? Are people just traveling to post pictures on their social media and Tinder profiles? What happened to ‘living in the moment?
The Post-Instagram World: Are We Traveling for Ourselves or Our Instagram Account?
As an avid traveler, I always thought I would travel because I wanted to. Not to brag about it on social media or make my Tinder profile look cooler. But in the world of Instagram reels, most of us seek validation from others.
We make sure to post stories so we don’t feel inferior. We want the world to think that we are living our best life. And in the meantime, we forget who we are actually living for—ourselves.
You open any dating app, and you will find profiles filled with ‘I am a traveler or ‘I am seeking a travel buddy’ kind of bios. Or the cringy ‘traveler for life’ filters on Snapchat. All these trends have changed the concept of traveling.
Being a 90s kid, I may not have seen the pictures from my parent’s holidays, but I have heard many stories that are so close to my heart. This is precisely what traveling means. Creating memories together or alone. Not a travel ad film for your Facebook.
We travel to refresh our minds, rejuvenate our souls, and discover who we are. Not to make our lives look similar to that of the Kardashians. Ask yourself, when was the last time you truly enjoyed a sunset and not captured it? We are a generation so busy trying to make Instagram stories that we forget to live in the real ones.
There is nothing wrong with clicking pictures during your trip. They give us memories. But overdoing them leads to losing the purpose of traveling.
How will we experience the culture or make new friends if we are busy updating our Instagram stories? Are we just going to record the concert through our latest iPhone or enjoy its vibe?
I remember traveling in the early 2000s. When I explored the world through my eyes and not my camera lens. Now, it’s more about the pictures I clicked rather than the experienced I had.
Reality hit me hard when I forgot my camera batteries during my trip to Goa. The thought of not being able to click photos drove me berserk. How will I tell the world the awesomeness of this beach? How will I get a reel in this outfit?
After calming down, I decided to go and explore Goa like we were in the 90s. No pictures or videos but just me and the place. The result? I experienced Goa like never before and genuinely enjoyed the sunset rather than making a boomerang.
Furthermore, I truly relished my meals without clicking a hundred pictures. I felt rejuvenated. Not my Instagram handle, just me.
Let’s Put the Wonder Back in ‘wanderlust’
Traveling is more about living in the moment than capturing it. People who live behind a camera don’t have much to actually say about their trip. Traveling is a meditation meant to reduce stress, not increase it.
How will you detox in the mountains when you are constantly searching for the Wi-Fi? What memories will you make if you are busy editing your reels? Think about it.
Post the pandemic, we are already living in a world full of stress and anxiety. Traveling is one of a few things that allow us to rejuvenate. Why spend that time worrying about your IG feed?
But then again, how will we feed our Instagram egos if we leave our phones and cameras behind? Nowadays, traveling has become a commercialized part of ‘image capitalism.’ You may not get the matches if you don’t have 10 travel pictures on your dating profile.
But hey, you will be surprised to know that thousands of people still don’t post their travel stories. They don’t spend their vacation clicking pictures and instead enjoy the views. Yes, they very much exist. And there is a lot we can learn from them.
So stop impressing the people you don’t know, quit seeking validation from people who don’t matter and start traveling like a real person. You are not a social media machine.
What’s the Purpose of Traveling?
Everyone travels for a different purpose. Some travel to seek solitude, while others travel to make new friends. For many people, traveling means finding themselves; for others, it means getting lost in the world, away from reality.
While traveling can have numerous purposes, the most common objective is exploring. To discover new places, learn about new cultures, and change your perspective for the better.
When you return home from a journey, your soul is filled with memories. And don’t let the power of social media take those memories away from your soul. They are precious, keep them safe.
American musician and traveler Henry Rollins, known for picking a random spot on the map and traveling to that place, once said, “I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure.”