Carrie Burns is a Study Abroad student from the USA at the University of Limerick.
My first encounter with an Instagram Traveler was at the Cliffs of Moher
…which looking back, makes complete sense to me what with its status of being a very touristy area. Absolutely breathtaking, yes. One of the top places I was determined to make it to during my time in Ireland, yes- but that should only attest to the allure it holds to non-Irish visitors like myself.
Anyways- I distinctly remember standing firmly a safe distance away from the immediate edge of the cliffs, enjoying the view and trying to scout out the exact location they most likely used to film some of the panoramic views for the Harry Potter movies.
It was through these moments of simple observation that I noticed one of them.
The Instagram Traveler is often very well-dressed, usually an attribute deriving from their uncanny ability to perfectly organize different components of something to make it very aesthetically pleasing.
Sometimes they have some serious camera equipment, sometimes a selfie-stick, sometimes just their iPhone. They can be alone, brooding and deliberate in their actions, or they can be with a group of their friends, giving kind but very specific orders as to how exactly they would like to be posed in the photo and from what angle it should come from.
The main identifying feature of an Instagram Traveler though is the way they approach the stunning view before them, regardless of whether it’s a natural feature, an impressive skyline, or an old building saturated with historical significance. From my own observations they usually tend to walk up, frame the photo mentally and then proceed to whip out whatever technology to take a good couple hundred shots. This process usually takes about 5-10 minutes tops, to which they then lower the camera and back away from the subject, ready to leave.
Before I go any further…
I would first like to stop and clarify that I am by no means intending to criticize people who like to photograph their experiences. I myself love taking pictures of new places I go, and honestly struggled with finding the right balance of what was too much versus just right when I first arrived in Ireland.
So I get it. I totally get the inclination of wanting to take a bunch of pictures; especially those really good money shots that look beautiful online.
However, I do think there’s a huge difference between wanting to innocently snap a few images for memory’s sake as opposed to going to a place just to say you’ve been there, and take a million pictures as proof.
So many of these Instagram Travelers I observe taking photos seem to be doing so immediately upon arrival, almost robotically. There doesn’t seem to be a moment where they can stop and put the camera down to truly enjoy the experience. No reflection occurs, no peaceful observation, no excited comments or musings spoken to whomever it is they’re traveling with- just a rapid series of clicks and then moving on to the next big thing to document.
I know it’s not too big of a deal. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and if that’s how they want to spend their valuable time “traveling” obviously it’s none of my business. I think ultimately it just makes me sad to see people’s priorities change in such a big way.
Social media is great
…and being able to communicate with your friends and family through images when you’re far from home is life-saving- but it can also get in the way of truly living life. Are you really appreciating your vacation with a phone stuck to your face the whole time? Is observing an impressive view through the lens of a camera the same as with your own eyes?
Live in the moment.
I know this is so incredibly cheesy, but it’s the best way to state the point. Put the phone away and truly exist both mentally and physically in the place you’re currently inhabiting- especially when traveling. Traveling is for learning and seeing new things, meeting new people, getting out of your daily routine and experiencing what the world has to offer. It’s for self-reflection. And you’re not going to get that when you’re too busy slapping on the best filter over one of the hundreds of photos you took while at the Ring of Kerry.
To my fellow future UL International/Study Abroad/Erasmus students: keep this in mind!
And feel free to use the little rule I established for when you first get to a new place: Stop. Give yourself some time to adjust and enjoy. Observe things. Realize where you are. Then you may take as many pictures as you like.
Thanks to Carrie for writing this for us! Check out her Top 5 Coffee Shops You Must Visit in Limerick
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