My road to Damascus experience came courtesy of someone who worked for a tourist board.
We were halfway through a long, leisurely lunch in an appealing little restaurant in a particularly scenic beauty spot. The decór was jaunty, the food had flair and the wine flowing. On one side of the table (where the tourist board people were gathered) there was laughter and chatter, on the other it was relatively quiet; heads were down and assorted bloggers were fiddling with something just out of sight below the level of the table; there was a lot of Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking going on.
One of the women from the destination’s tourist board turned to me and asked:
“Why aren’t they just enjoying the moment?”
I slipped my phone surreptitiously back into my pocket and shrugged.
Until Twitter et al came on the scene, we used to travel and totally absorb the wonderful new worlds we were exploring. Now, if you’re a travel blogger/writer, there can be a pressure, real or otherwise, to share the moment… instantly.
The problem with sharing the moment instantly is that it also distracts and detracts from that ‘moment’. It takes away that which used to make it so special; the sheer pleasure of quiet appreciation, or wild spontanious screams of joy and excitement (depending on what form the ‘moment’ takes).
There’s a growing danger that sharing an experience can become more important than the experience itself.
Cross that line and we’ve lost sight of the sort of things that attracted us to travelling in the first place. I’m making an assumption that most of us subscribe to the “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where lots of people have gone before” sort of travel philosophy.
Often when we travel we feel obliged to Tweet and post pictures on Facebook the second something memorable happens, we’re faced with views that stop us in our tracks or we bite into something that has been created by a culinary genius etc. A lot of the time Andy and I forget and there’s a ‘D’oh!’ moment afterwards when we remember we haven’t appeased the gods of social media.
The truth is I’m quite happy about this. It means we’ve been enchanted. It means we’ve been caught in the travel moment. It means that the balance between enjoying the experience and sharing it is still more weighted towards the enjoyment side.
Long may that continue to happen.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+