Let's Take a Vacation from Instagram Vacation
Instagram Travel: Diluting your vacation experience on the hunt for the perfect photo to share on Instagram.
Reading time: 4 minutes
Inspired by Mary Pilon's article on Backchannel, I thought I'd give my take on this phenomenon that seems to really get people going. Many get upset by it and turn their social media off but at the end of the day, we need to re-think how we use platforms like Instagram. We're in complete control of how we shape our experience with social media, so don't let it consume you. I tend to forget that I use social media in a much different way than the average user, so sit back and assess your habits after you read this. Let it enhance your time, rather than becoming just Instagram travel.
Get the tourist spots out of the way but don't make them the main attraction.
On the surface, these amazing photos are the highlight of your trip since that's the content you're putting out there. In reality? It's a footnote. The trek towards that tourist spot - what you do before and after are what you'll really remember. That's the story you'll tell people in person when they ask about your experience. Tourist spots are famous for a reason (unless you're in China, where they literally make shit up to get your money) - they bring wonder to the minds of everyone who visits. Take this silhouette of Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia) by Mary Pilon for example. The black outline and its reflection back in the water are sure to get some likes. What you don't see are the hordes of tourists trying to get that exact same shot. Photos can be replicated, stories cannot.
Instagram is Exactly What You Make Of It
Take control of your feed. You have complete control over what types of content pops up. Don't like the shitty memes or barrage of selfies someone's posting? Consider them unfollowed. This mentality can and should also be applied to your approach to the platform. If you're wrapped up in trying to get that perfect photograph and miss out on the real experience, you and only you are to blame. It's not the platform or internet culture, it's your fault for obsessing over it.
I joined Instagram in 2012 if I remember right and in the years I've spent on the platform, I've had plenty of different approaches. That's about 4 years now, quite a long time to spend on one app. By now, I've grown to know Instagram pretty well - the good and bad aspects of it. At first, my account was just for sharing my life with friends - I was one of those people with a private account that was picky about who could follow me. That quickly changed, of course.
I've cast a much wider net since then, while still keeping a finely tuned feed of travelers and entrepreneurs - the people I connect with on a personal level best. I could spend an endless time in my feed talking with people I follow, there isn't anyone that feels out of place. At the same time, the content I put out brings back memories for me and those who shared my 'Instagram travel' experiences with me.