We all know the saying “Objects are Closer than they Appear” well a recent conversation with a friend made me think about Travel Truths. My friend just returned from the West Coast, a trip that seemed fabulous by her Facebook photos. I asked her about the trip and she said “it was horrible”….I looked at her and said “but your Facebook photos?”. She said she basically felt the need to post a happy status and happy photos during her trip despite the fact that it wasn’t fun. She wasn’t lying per se – those photos do capture fleeting minutes of the trip when everyone was happy and posed for the photo. But this made me wonder, why do we feel compelled to feed the social media monster (don’t get me started on emojis)?
Every time I look at my Instagram feed, I am instantly jealous – jealous that I’m not on the beach in Sydney, jealous that my lunch/dinner/dessert doesn’t look half as appealing as the one posted in #foodporn or #foodiechats, jealous that I’m in my office working while others are having fun – but are they? Are they culling the best photos to curate an online “brand” image? Is this just another mask we are all wearing online to show our best selves to be accepted? To garner a ton of likes? To help our self-esteem?
Social Media Happy
I’ve fallen into the “happy online life” for short periods after a family/friends intervention last year. The rainy, cloudy day photos from Dublin, London and Australia (almost two months worth of clouds and rain) were depressing everyone on Facebook and people felt sorry for me. There are only so many times you can read comments like “hope it gets better” followed by twenty likes, “fingers crossed for sun”, “better days ahead”. Was I looking for pity by posting the photos? I’m not sure, maybe it was good to be noticed but I was posting the truth so how can that be bad? Was I trying to make others feel gloomy? Not at all. Actually the Sydney Opera House still shines in the rain. Lucky for me, I had a 1/2 day of sun so I exhausted myself chasing the sun in Sydney.
I was sharing my trip as it was happening – isn’t that what social media is about – the here and now (unless we #latergram it)? I’m learning it really isn’t about the bad stuff, people want, rather need, to feel better about life, to have something to dream about, look forward to and strive for – fair enough. But shouldn’t we share the good, bad and ugly of our travels? Isn’t that the truth? Or are we ok to look at the truth in the rear view mirror, knowing it’s close but not really acknowledging it?
You Can’t Handle the Travel Truth!
The truth? What is the travel truth? Travel blogs, sites like TripAdvisor and other review sites have flourished as they try to let people share their travel truth. That moment in time when life was great or it sucked. That glossy hotel room photo….Well, it actually looks like this! The pristine beach photo? Sure you can get that after cropping out the trash on the beach. Who and What can you trust? This is the million dollar question in Travel – so many different vendors, products, experts, experiences and opinions, too much money in the mix often clouding the results – it’s what makes travel such a fantastic and frustrating business and/or experience for everyone.
For me, I’ve share the good, the bad and the ugly. There are sunny photos of Sydney and rainy photos of Sydney (after my intervention I’m trying to follow the 80/20 rule of sunny over rainy even if the actual days are 20/80). I’ve talked about my Travel Meltdown in Capetown (not pretty), my travel doldrums, my Nightmare Travel Day from Paris to London and a few bad hotels and Airbnbs along the way. It’s good to be honest, to be real and to show the reality of travel (plus it saves me therapy costs to write about it and process it). It’s not always sunshine and roses, there are delays, cancellations, missed connections which is why I carry heaps of chocolate in my bag for emergencies. For every lounge visit, there is the sitting on the yucky floor at the gate when you find the good wi-fi spot or an outlet. For every quick security check (see I can be funny) – I rarely have a quick (or easy) security check – I’m always getting the patdown around the world traveling solo. The stories that come out of that are usually quite memorable, I became a solo traveler from one of those “sad stories”.
Travel Truths – Final Thoughts
I don’t really have an answer to all of my questions, but it does make me think before I “like” a status, photo, etc. – do I really like it or am I trying to make the other person feel better about it? Or am I trying to make myself feel better?
I’m curious what you think? Do you post only sunshine and happiness, rainbows and unicorns? Do you feel sad if you get twenty likes or less? What are your thoughts about travel truths? Do you need the glossy brochures and photo filters to make you happy? How do you dig deep to find the real thing?