It’s a shit rainy Monday and you’re putting off ending ‘breakfast time’ to go and get in the shower because that unfortunately indicates that the working week is about to begin and people actually need you to be on form. In a somewhat foolish move, you whizz onto Instagram to nosey through a few photos. That won’t take long, and doesn’t require much brain power, so it’s all good.
Why is everyone else apparently on a 52 week long holiday? How can these twenty-somethings afford to swan about wearing expensive bikinis on the world’s beaches whilst I’m cramming my holidays into 5 weeks and paying for them for the other 47?
Not only am I now closer to 30 than 20 (and actually have been for a few years, but was happily in denial), I’m now acutely aware of the fact that my success rate as a ‘globetrotter’ is potentially below par. Add to this the fact that – despite my fitness obsession – in my present state I wouldn’t be able to fit one bum cheek into the bikinis these girls are wearing and #MondayMotivation just turned into #FuckThisShit and #ShitImGoingToBeLateForWork
The Problem With Other People’s Glossy Lives and Perfect Bods
The appearance of a glossy and untainted life can lead to us normal folk feeling somewhat inadequate. Is my three week holiday to NYC, Vegas and California not enough?! Am I ungrateful or simply the type of person who strives for more?
The problem with social media is that people tend to edit out the crap parts of their lives (which they obviously don’t want people to see) meaning sometimes the content is plainly misleading.
Social media is often criticised for not being ‘real’. I know through speaking to some more influential social media personalities that often apparently ‘in-the-moment’ holiday snaps which look relatively natural and ‘ad hoc’ are the result of considerable effort and editing. One such travel and fitness influencer said of her Instagram pictures that in order to be able to post a snap which looks natural, she has to position herself in the correct lighting, prop her phone up on a stool at the right height and take a series of photos (usually around 45 in sequence whilst she constantly repositions herself) and only then can she select the best snap, apply a filter and post it to her thousands of followers.
This made me feel quite a bit better about the fact that I am actually quite terrible at selfies and also made me realise the amount of work some of these Instagram-famous personalities put into maintaining this glossy and well-travelled image.
When you consider that, suddenly your own terrible double-chin selfies in front of the Brooklyn Bridge don’t seem quite as horrific.
My Instagram Accounts
I have two instagram accounts. My personal account (@_afrothunder_) is not planned and features mostly food, shoes, exercise and more food – a reflection of my life for the majority of the year.
My ‘travel blogger’ account (@the5weekwanderer) on the other hand features only pictures from my travels, holidays and days out. It’s not intended to make it look like I’m a full-time professional travel blogger – after all I do this in my spare time – but I do wonder what impression it gives given I don’t post my day to day activities. My feed looks like one long jolly.
If you only flicked through the5weekwanderer’s account, it would be easy to assume I was jet-setting all of the time. I can assure you that whilst I would love to travel more than I do, it’s simply not an option which is currently open to me!
Does the fact that my account could be interpreted in this way make me a hypocrite? Does it make me a master of deception?
I think not.
I choose to separate the day-to-day life from the ‘wanderer’s’ life because I highly doubt that my limited ‘travel followers’ would be interested in what I ate for breakfast or my career in finance. Perhaps I should share more of what I do in my career. After all, I’m much more proud of my career than I ever would be of my ass in a bikini, but that’s a whole separate conversation.
What Do Other’s Think?
I invited the opinion of some of my fellow travel-oriented social media acquaintances. I was surprised there was less of a ‘defensive’ response to the question, which was potentially a little bit loaded!
igtravels16 had this to say: “As an accountant who likes taking holiday snaps I see so many people travelling on here and wonder how they do it 😕”
dinelivetravel commented: “Personally, only take photos of where we go and what we eat. One main reason for starting my blog was to give people a totally honest positive view. I was tired of negativity. If we don’t like somewhere, I don’t broadcast it, we simply move on. If there is a negative at a place we visit, I will balance this with what we found as being positive and enjoyable. Surely it cannot all be bad. I juggle the photography and blogging around our full time jobs. We are lucky living in Brisbane to have access to so many wonderful areas for quick weekend breaks as well as an incredible choice of venues for meals. We work hard and reward ourselves when we can. Something we both believe strongly in.”
So it seems that for the few of us who are ‘part time’ social media users and bloggers, it’s all about positively sharing our experiences. Having said that, it’s also relatively clear that none of us really understand how the ‘big players’ of social media manage to be travelling all the time!
The relevance and usefulness of social media is one of those topics which divides opinion, but unless you live in a cave then you probably can’t avoid interacting with it in some form or other. Despite being occasionally pissed off by social media, I continue to use it and even go as far as to admit that I like it!
There’s no doubt that Instagram and Pinterest have been a catalyst to my ever-growing wanderlust over the past few years. This is one of the more positive influences social media has had on my life. It gives me the images to add to my sense of willing to travel, so my daydreams are more vivid as a result.
My desire for escapism is also legitimised by the fact that I’m clearly not the only one with travel on my mind! Unlike many, I don’t really want to quit my well-paid job for the chance to travel all year round. If it was what I really wanted, then I would simply do it. That’s the kind of person I am – impulsive in a considered manner.
I’ll continue to draw inspiration for my next holiday from social media, but with a touch of realism so that my expectations are a little lower than 5* all inclusive Indonesian villa-based spa breaks with daily massages and a personal infinity pools overlooking the ocean.