You open your social media accounts and there is a onslaught of pictures. Tagged are places you don't even know exist in the world, and they look like they don't belong in this world anyway. There is a tinge of desire, a want to be there yourself. Maybe one day, you tell yourself. And you skip to the next hash tagged destination.
It is great how in the last few years, travelling has become such a part of all our lives...travelling not for work, but for pleasure. Some time ago I think the trend began - the one to take off for a few days and "find yourself", and then it caught on like wildfire on a dry forest. And for good measure.
Because, as a fellow traveller, I know what a joy it is to go somewhere you have never been before, you experience the thrill of seeing new landscapes, people, and places. The happiness that comes when you reach the summit of a mountain and feel like you must have died because this view must surely be heaven.
Travelling brings you so many things that life would be incomplete without. There is, of course, the novelty about seeing new cultures and scenery; but it is more about what that does to us. It is when we discover other people, their lands, and their stories that we discover so much more about ourselves. Our worldview, the way we assess and approach life and things in it becomes so much wider, warmer, and mindful. So more than anything, it grows us, travelling. That is why people say that even though there is no 'right' age to travel, it is best undertaken when you are young because of how it shapes us and helps us be who we are.
The least of all the things travel brings you is the result of posting everything on social media because it augers more followers, and because everyone will think about and perhaps envy you your grandiose life. Because then one wonders, are we travelling for our souls or for social media validation? Are we doing anything in our lives for ourselves? If it didn't happen on Instagram, did it happen at all?
So much of what we do is done for social approval these days. And we all do it, sometimes without even realizing it we become party to the whole idea. But for me, travelling is holy... no matter where we go. For me, storytelling is also essential. So it becomes essential to share the stories and the tales of the lands we go to and spread the traveler's word.
All one has to do is log on to Instagram to see how "travelling" has been viral-ed and commercialised. There are hosts of blogs working solely on pretty travel pictures with no background of where and what.
There are photo blogs of couples traversing through various rich locations and posting photographs - making it look more like a post-wedding shoot and marketing activity for 10,000 other brands. Trends like #FollowMeTo and #BeMyTravelMuse make for beautiful pictures but I am sorry, is the handle even about the travel anymore? Or just a shoot you decided to take up? By all means, be the artist and interpret a land your own way... but then be more about exploration and not a viral trend when you talk about being a travel blog.
So when we are madly posting pictures to garner shares and likes, when we want to travel but complain about there being no WiFi, and when we would rather take pictures of where we are instead of living it, maybe we should ask ourselves: who are we really traveling for? That is up for introspection when you are sitting across a snow-clad mountain, overlooking a valley and busy taking pictures and uploading it online the very minute. You think about whether you are travelling for leisure or for the likes?
I will too. Until maybe one day, when I travel - and tell no one.