How Much Social Media is Good For Travelling? (If you are really out for a good travel experience)

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Because of the onslaught of information on the internet and on social networks, many people have started cautioning against an overuse of social media especially when you are away travelling.

So you will come across a lot of articles like these: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/dont-let-an-obsession-with-technology-ruin-your-holiday-a6738196.html

Or even this one which just calls out social media for being a lie: http://www.mamamia.com.au/social-media-is-a-lie/

While I am an advocate of using Social Media both as a content-creator and as a reader, I tend to agree with the above articles too. Especially when it comes to travel, this obsessive behavior of modern-day travelers, their compulsive need to document and share everything they are seeing and feeling, is breaking the internet’s back and forcing their readers to question the real utility of internet.

Is it a boon or a bane of our modern lives? Not just as a reader, even as a traveler who is uploading the posts on FB, pictures on Instagram and now even Snapchatting, Periscoping live videos etc: Is using social media while travelling a good idea or should it be shunned in the interest of a better travelling experience?

What are we to believe?

According to me, the answer lies in BALANCE. And to find this balance is really the trick.

Let me try to dig deeper into this conundrum by asking some introspective questions. And I urge you to ask these of yourself and find your own answers.

Is It A Problem If I Click a Picture Of (Almost) Every Meal and Upload It On My Network ?

To sound very philosophical “The answer to this lies within you”

Ask yourself why are you doing this ? What is your reason to be focused on clicking a picture and uploading , more than actually enjoying the meal.

Are you a food blogger or a food stylist or a photographer or a restaurant reviewer or aspiring to be one?

I know this question is tricky as most of us think that we are indeed all of the above but search yourself. This next question might help you inch you closer to your true answer.

Are you uploading it only to be able to get likes and to feel good about the likes?

Or you are  doing it to dispense some important information about that meal and no,  ‘bestest pizza in the world’ , ‘yummylicious chocolate lava cake’  IS NOT useful information at all!

Psychologists say that “People who are dependent on someone liking their latest social media post probably already have some issues in their life,”  We all know people on Facebook who update their status every half an hour, and it can be sad because a lot of times they don’t even garner any conversation on those posts. Most psychologists, when they see people behaving like that, can get a sense that there are some underlying issues which are not addressed.

Here’s another question:

Is It A Problem If I Click A Picture of The Great Outdoors I am In and The Great Holiday I am Having?

Again let’s go through the diagnostics

Are you a travel blogger or an activist who wants to motivate people to have an outdoorsy life or a photographer or a TripAdvisor reviewer or want to become any of the above?

OR Are you uploading it only to let people know what a good time you are having? Is your main reason to impress other people with your good fortune and to make your friends somewhat envious?

Or you are doing these updates to dispense some useful information about these places you are visiting ? What were the unique features of that place? How to get there? What were the problems you faced ? Did you see impact of climate change there?

Again, only you know your real answers.

The truth is that Social Media can actually enhance your travel experience and of the readers as well. Not just getting some off-beat ideas for your next vacation because you saw a beautiful picture on someone’s Instagram feed but also to read reviews of your Airbnb apartment and its hosts ; Or looking up a check-in by your friend to find exact location of a certain restaurant or even to get help in a time of crisis when you are stuck in a foreign land – Social Media can be and is very helpful.

Mature people with a balanced frame of mind can fruitfully harness and use Social Media information for their specific needs. Social Media, like electricity is a good servant but a bad master. And it is upto you to stop Social Media from becoming your master.

The question for travelers, then, is how to use social media effectively. Do you share your every thought, feeling and meal with the world? Or just observe from the sidelines?

“There’s a lot of evidence with Twitter, for example, that the people who are using it most effectively are the people who are just listening,” Academicians say.

“Same with Facebook. Essentially anyone who’s bombarding a social media platform with what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner and clicking a selfie at every mall, every place they are visiting, doesn’t really get social media and how it functions. No one uses Twitter effectively if they’re posting 10 times a day, because other people stop listening.”

Social media is part of our reality now. It’s a part of how we maintain relationships and share ideas. Most of the time when you are travelling, you’re on vacation, and you do want to share things. You want to share photos with people who’ve never been there. It’s genuine. So as long as it is genuine from your side and truly useful for your reader, post away!

And that even goes for wanting to photograph your meal. Like I said it’s not the action but the intention behind that action that makes all the difference.

Mostly, however, the trick to social media is to stop worrying about it. It’s not toxic, and it’s not addictive. It just is.

I can tell you many ways of making Social Media work for everyone. And uploading your entire album of 100 (or even 20 !) pictures with a caption “Awesome Place” is definitely not one of them.

In my next article, Learn more about HOW to use different social networks to get the most out of each.

Cover picture credit: onedio.co

Author Bio:

Ansoo Gupta is the COO of digital marketing firm Pinstorm and has traveled independently to over 60 countries. Her One Shoe Trust for Responsible and Mindful Travels conducts various events and programmes to help Indians travel more, travel better and travel right.

You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. She very rarely posts the pictures of her lunch.



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