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Your plane touches down on the tarmac as a vista of palm trees, white sand beaches and lush hills comes slowly into focus. After months of planning, day-dreaming and staring wistfully at Caribbean-inspired screen savers, you’ve finally arrived at your destination. [dropcap]T[/dropcap]he next hour proves a mad rush from the plane to the hotel as you dash through customs, speed through check-in and look forward to dropping your luggage and shimmying into a swimsuit. Finally the moment arrives—the exquisite bliss of stepping into a gorgeous hotel room for the first time. Rather than rush to the beach, you pull out your phone and begin documenting your trip.
You start by taking an ‘effortless’ selfie of yourself with a view from the hotel balcony to post to Snapchat. Check. You then film a slow video pan of the entire room so that your desk-chained friends back home have something to drool over in between meetings. Check. Next you create an enviable flat lay of your swimsuit, guidebook and sunhat to post to Instagram. Check. Half an hour passes and by the time you’ve thoroughly documented every facet of your arrival, you head down to the beach where you will repeat the same process, this time with sand and sea.
Such is the age we live in today; an era marked by social media. Whereas experiences were once measured in memories, today they are held to the standard of likes, comments and shares. In a recent study by Expedia, 2,000 respondents surveyed confessed they focus more on social media while traveling then when they’re at home. The finding is hardly surprising; after all, social media is nothing if not a medium to show our best selves, living our best lives, which—more often than not—happens while traveling.
What is surprising though is that of the people surveyed by Expedia, 44 percent felt social media ruined their vacation. In other words, we all have a clear love-hate relationship with our social media accounts. Like addicts, we feel a helpless impulse to feed our feeds, all the while detesting the fact that we are focusing on the filters and edits of the beach we’re standing on, rather than enjoying it.
While taking a quick photo and uploading it to the ‘”the gram” seems harmless enough, 10 percent of people admitted taking upwards of 15 photos per post in order to get that perfect snapshot. It is this process of posing, editing, writing, uploading, hash-tagging and sharing that can eat away at time that is meant to help you disconnect.
Avoiding social media altogether may be the knee jerk reaction to Expedia’s findings, but Psychology Today argues instead that our social media use is about striking a balance. “A healthy relationship with social media means approaching technology like we do other things we want to control and make work for us: we pay attention to what we do and why.”