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Are you experiencing your travels IRL?

Are you experiencing your travels IRL?

It was a sunny spring Sunday, and we’d taken a train upstate to immerse ourselves in nature by hiking up to Anthony’s Nose.

There are 2 ways to get up to Anthony’s Nose, both of which take about an hour. We’d extended the hike by taking the Camp Smith Trail, which added an extra hour of hiking time.

After the 2.5 hour hike (if you can math, then you’ve probably realised that it should have taken us only 2 hours, but as per tradition we’d managed to get lost at one point), we arrived at the scenic vista point with views over Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson Valley.

Ecstatic that we’d finally reached the top, I snapped a few photos, but then put my camera away to enjoy our packed lunch of bread rolls and hummus. We sat and admired the view along with other hikers and families who’d spent the weekend getting active.

View from Anthony's Nose

The view from Anthony’s Nose

Looking around, I noticed the arrival of a couple to our right. The woman was dressed trendily in yoga pants and a crop top, and was facing away from the view and holding up her smartphone for a selfie. Her boyfriend waited patiently while she was taking photos.

A few minutes later, I glanced over and noticed that she was still pouting at the camera. I couldn’t believe how long she was spending on her attempt to get the perfect selfie in front of the view.

I looked away and continued eating my lunch, but curiosity had taken hold, so I continued glancing over to check on the status of her selfie mission. Over the next 15-20 minutes, I did not see her look at her surroundings once. Her eyes were glued to the screen of her smartphone.

When we eventually got up to make our way down the other side of the hill, I looked over at her one last time and felt a pang of sadness. This girl was so obsessed with the act of sharing the hike with her friends on social media that she’d not even enjoyed the beautiful scene in front of her.

Hiking the Camp Smith Trail

Hiking the Camp Smith Trail

Now I’m sure you can all guess that I’m rather into both photography and social media. I think it’s great that I’m able see what my friends and family are doing when they post updates on Facebook, and I do the same when I have photos or news worthy of sharing.

But how could we ever let this ability to share get to the point where we don’t actually experience things in real life? Internet accessibility can be a blessing, but it might just get in the way of in-the-moment experiences.

Life isn’t just about the photos we take and what we share on social media. It’s about experiencing things for what they really are. In an era of smartphones and constant internet access, we need to make sure we’re not just travelling over social media.

Views on the Camp Smith Trail

Views on the Camp Smith Trail

I’ve noticed this trend becoming more common in my Instagram feed too. Where I once saw photos of people having the time of their lives and sharing beautiful photos of their surroundings, I now seeing more and more posed shots that have obviously been set up purely to get the maximum number of likes.

I’m aware that this case of the hiking girl is probably a rare scenario, and that many of you would already make an effort to experience your travels IRL instead of through the screen of your camera or smartphone, but it scares me to think that in the future, this could be a normal way for us to live our lives.

So, next time you see something amazing or do something memorable, by all means, take a few snaps, and then remember to spend a few minutes soaking it in with your eyes. You’ll likely find that this creates a more vivid memory than the one captured on your screen.


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Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

14 Responses to “Are you experiencing your travels IRL?”

  1. Jane Trombley

    Good point, Ashlea. I believe it’s a challenge for travel bloggers to to strike the right balance. Thanks for shining your spotlight on the Hudson Valley – it’s a favorite destination when I’m headed out of NYC.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Jane! The Hudson Valley sure is lovely, I’ve been up there from NYC a few times and have a few more trips planned in the near future 🙂

      Reply
  2. Stephanie

    I relish my moments on the road because it’s often the best time I get to turn off social media and the internet and to simply immerse myself into the world around me. That’s why I love outdoors adventures so much!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I absolutely agree! It’s easy to distract ourselves from social media if we just allow ourselves to get immersed in our surroundings. Thanks for your comment, Stephanie!

      Reply
  3. Ellie

    The reason I love travel is because of the patchy internet, and going on hikes and out into nature is the best way to switch. its hard sometimes to want to capture everything. My boyfriend and I (we are both filmmakers/photographers) developed a rule when we were travelling around america that whenever we got to a new place, we had to spend at least 5-10 minutes just looking and taking it in before we got out any cameras to capture any part of it trying to drink in the details. I’m so glad we did cause I have such clarity in my memories of arches, the grand canyon and lots of different places. we went up the freedom tower in NYC too and spent the first 45 minutes we were there just looking before any picture taking – it was wonderful! We definitely overstayed our welcome though hehe! Great post! Something that is interesting to discuss!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ooh I love your personal rule idea! That would definitely help with maximising the real life experience. I know it would be especially hard for you as filmmakers/photographers to suppress that urge to immediately get your camera out! Thanks for sharing your experiences on this issue, Ellie 🙂

      Reply
  4. Birgit | Groove is in the Heart

    So true. I also see it more and more. Even before smartphones and selfies you would get people who see life only through a camera lens. Set up a few gorgeous images, by all means, but then remember to sit back and just take it all in with all your senses!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Absolutely! This issue is nothing new, but I think it’s definitely becoming more widespread. Sometimes I just feel like yelling “Open your eyes, people!”. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a memory is priceless.

      Reply
  5. Michael

    So true! This reminded me of a time when I was at Pai Canyon (I believe it’s called), and there was this Asian there taking pictures on the ledge. He seriously took a picture from every conceivable angle; standing, smiling, frowning, kneeling, sitting, everything! And then he took his shirt off and did all over again Meanwhile, there’s like 5 people waiting to go down there and take a picture. I was flabbergasted! This kind of stuff really does annoy me though, that’s one reason I’m so hesitant to start with snapchat, I feel like it’s just taking away from normal interactions. Great post though! Sorry for the rant 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ergh, that’s awful! And you’re absolutely right about it being annoying as well. It took me a long while to come around to using snapchat, and maybe you’re on to something about it affecting normal interactions. Sometimes it saddens me to know that future generations are going to think that this what normal life is like!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I absolutely agree! There’s definitely a line that needs to be drawn, and it’s sad to see so many people crossing it. Thanks for your comment, Danielle!

      Reply

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