Social Media While Travelling: How Not to be an Asshole
Cards on the table, I am undoubtedly an unmitigated asshole when it comes to social media and travelling. It’s kind of my job…
I’ve been that dickhead checking in at every exotic eatery (with accompanying shots of his food), posting heavily edited photos on Instagram, and sharing gushing statuses about how blessed I am to be leading the life I do.
With that load off my chest (ew), I like to think I have improved. I tend to keep my travel boasts to my Aussie on the Road page, rather than inundating my hapless friends back home while they’re busy with their office jobs or screaming babies.
Or both. Poor bastards.
Sure, sometimes it’s nice to have a little escape and live vicariously through a globe-trotting friend, but at other times such posts may just irritate, especially if you’re tired and can’t get that week off to travel somewhere fun and exotic.
So, how do you share your happiness without holding your friend’s face in it like he’s been a bad dog?
Never fear! I’ve come up with a few pointers to keep your friends and family from sharpening pitch-forks, lighting torches, and chasing you towards the hangin’ tree.
Quality over quantity
With the exception of a few things in life (such as money and lives in Mario), quality is almost always better than quantity. I’ll take the cast of Charlie’s Angels for a little menage a trois action over fifty pensioners, and one year married to Ryan Gosling is likely to be better than ten married to Donald Trump.
It’s the eternal truth: it is better to share a few spectacular photographs of the places visited, rather than your staggering collection of “duck faces” from every airport, cafe, public bathroom, and a hotel you stopped in.
Don’t be that asshole who literally uploads every fucking photo you took on your trip without descriptions or tags: just an unasked for face blast of grainy, thumb marred photos of the same pseudo-artistic stretch of road.
If you are an active social media user like me, it might be better to divide your posts between a few different social media channels: leave your food on Instagram, share your favorite travel story with an accompanying picture on Facebook, and leave your duck-faces and philosophizing for TikTok.
Resist the urge to apply too much polish
Far be it from me, a habitual photo editor and user of flowery language, to condemn a little polish.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good in a photo or applying a little post-production to fix the lens flare or the lack of color. After all, cameras don’t capture the scene as you saw it, so there’s nothing wrong with bringing it up to the standard you saw.
But unless you’re pimping the destination or the hotel, there’s no need to give them the full glamour treatment. You can post a no-makeup selfie, let your gut hang where it naturally hangs in that beach shot, or post the food as it looked.
Embrace your unique ugliness!
Remove the words ‘blessed’ and ‘lucky’ from your vocabulary
Don’t say how ‘blessed’ you are to be traveling. Don’t be that guy. You’re not an asshole.
And, unless you won your trip in some kind of competition, don’t belittle the hard work and planning you put into making your trip amazing.
You aren’t lucky – you’re just capable of leveraging your talents into an income and not pissing said income away on whiskey and blow.
Buy a journal
We started with an early morning walk on the beach and then had an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. After that, we had cocktails by the pool and I saw a really nice old boat down on the beach. We saw some playful monkeys, talked to a really nice couple from Uruguay, and then had lunch. Time for a nap now!
If your Facebook feed during a vacation reads like the above, I’ve got news for you: a lot of your friends have muted you so that you don’t take over their entire feed like a really, really dull symbiote suit.
I’m not saying you’re boring, I’m just saying that not everybody on your Facebook shares your mother’s enthusiasm for the minutiae of your existence.
The detailed daily report you want to share with your nearest and dearest can be written via e-mail or said via Skype/Viber/WhatsApp.
Hell, write it in a notebook while you sip Mai Tais and indulge in a little poolside people-watching.
Or, y’know, you could really indulge your vanity and start a travel blog…
I’m not here to tell you not to pay a visit to the Eiffel Tower or spend a day at Disney Land. There is no right or wrong way to travel as long as you’re not being a shitty human being.
Or visiting SeaWorld. Those guys are monsters. Have you seen Blackfish?
I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t post a picture of you doing that obnoxious ‘pinching the Statue of Liberty between your fingers’ thing. That shit is gold.
What I am saying is that you’re likely to tickle a lot more people with an interesting story or a unique vista than you are with one of the same stuff they could be seeing or doing at home.
That story about having to negotiate for an hour and a half with a McDonald’s delivery driver is likely more interesting to people who have never been to China than a generic picture of a bowl of rice and the unidentifiable green vegetables they served in your school cafeteria.
Put your hashtags in the comments
Don’t be a fucking Instagram rookie. Put your hashtags in the comments, especially if you’re sharing the same image directly across to FB or Twitter.
Enjoy the trip!
Technology and social media are amazing. They’ve changed the way we travel.
With one small, hand-held device we’re able to access maps, translation software, guidebooks, our favorite tunes, and a camera that you’d have dreamed about being able to afford a decade ago.
We’ve all got friends and family across the world we’d like to keep in touch with, and smartphones are great for that too.
There is one and very simple tip: before you whip out your phone to photograph, Tweet, Snapchat, and hashtag the shit out of that particular frame or a scene – take a moment to savor it.
Your photo will be there forever, but your memory of the moment is a finite thing.
What are your pet peeves from friends traveling the world and sharing their deepest thoughts on social media?
Are you guilty of being a bit of a boastful twat when it comes to your travels?
Don’t feel shy. This is a safe space.