Two weekends ago, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a sunny day, it wasn’t raining so Stonehenge was bustling with tourists. The scene was a sea of selfie sticks and group pictures. Like all the other tourists, my group set off taking photos to see who could get the best angle and lighting. My friend Alex suddenly stopped and said, “I’m going to just take a moment to take a mental picture.” That moment has stayed with me. It made me think about the culture of travelling for millennials in the age of social media.
As someone who is an avid traveler, I have a passion for travel photography and videos. I want to be able to capture a special moment in time. When memories begin to fade, it will be nice to have photographic evidence. However, because of social media, I think taking photos isn’t purely about capturing memories anymore. In the wake of Instagram and Facebook, are we too motivated by the numbers of likes we can get on a photo? Do we care more about showing we’ve been in a place than actually being there?
I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of this myself. I am. To be fair, there are good things about sharing over social media. The first two weeks here when I didn’t post any photos, my family and friends kept asking me to put some up on Facebook. They wanted to see what I was seeing and be reassured that I was having a great time. It’s nice that I can share a part of this experience with them.
This past weekend, when my friends and I went on a day trip to Oxford, I tried something new. Instead of immediately taking out my phone or camera at all of the sites, I took a few minutes to take it all in. I took my mental pictures just like Alex had said. Ultimately, it made me feel more connected to that place in time. I was able to notice beautiful things. In fact, when I eventually pulled my camera out, I took better photos and videos because I had a clearer sense of the environment.
Yes, I did end up posting a photo on Instagram, but after getting stuck in a claustrophobia-inducing spiral staircase of a 13th century clock tower, I wanted the result of that experience to be shown.
In short, I won’t stop taking photos and occasionally sharing them on social media. However, this experience has made me more cognizant of the amount of time I spend taking photos and my motivations for taking them. I don’t want to look back and think there was a camera lens between me and some cool site the entire time I was there. I end this blog with a quote from Jawaharlal Nehru, who once said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
So fellow adventurers, let’s remember to keep our eyes open.