This article was supposed to be a Weekend Wanderings post about my visit to Manhattan this past weekend. Last weekend, I posted a bunch of photos from my Labor Day Weekend back home on Cape Cod. They were beautiful to look at, and I enjoyed reflecting on how picturesque my home is, but as I said in the post, taking them was a conscious effort. I was constantly thinking about what would make a good photo opp. Passing by something interesting and dropping what I was doing to grab my iPhone and take a snap- it felt ridiculous to me. Left to my own devices, I rarely take photos. I’m not a photographer, I don’t enjoy posing for photos (which is why you won’t see too many photos of me on the blog), and I think selfies are just not ok. In life, and especially while travelling, I find taking photos to be a distraction to experiencing the moment. It’s not just the two seconds pressing click on the iPhone camera screen, it’s the interrupting a conversation to take a picture of a boat passing by, it’s the making everyone at the table wait so that you can take a picture of the perfectly foamed latte cups, and it’s the time spent with ideas for photos whizzing through your head in order to create the perfectly curated photo log of your trip, that disrupt fully living the experience you are in.
This weekend I went to New York to visit my two best friends from college. We haven’t all been in the same place since fall 2012, right before I moved to London. I took no photos. As I was riding the Chinatown bus home late last night, I realized that I hadn’t taken any, and therefore would have zero content for the blog on Monday, no content documenting my trip. What a wasted opportunity, I thought. For just a split second. Then I realized that no, I actually don’t regret it one bit. I enjoyed every single moment catching up with my two best friends, and not once was I absent because I was zoning out to take a photo of an interesting sign, or a bird flying through Central Park, or my brunch menu selection. It felt great. It felt like what for me, travelling is supposed to feel like.
Travel blogging, however, is a very visual game. It’s all about the photos of spectacular sunsets, quaint cobble stone streets, and photos of yourself with a spectacular vista in the backdrop. “If it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen”, is the saying right? Instagram is the place where you #liveauthentic(ally), and what’s the point of travel blogging, you may ask, if you don’t plan on sharing those visual experiences with your readers? I would have to disagree with that point of view. Travel blogging should be about travelling, and travelling for real, not travelling for a posed Instagram photo, or even for a blog post. Part of travelling is definitely seeing spectacular vistas and beautiful visual experiences and discoveries, but it’s also freaking out over what to pack, getting lost along the way with no cell service, figuring out how to book the best flights, getting put in weird new situations, and losing your passport and ticket in the airport with no idea of how get home (yes, this has happened to me). Those are the authentic travel experiences, and while I certainly will keep posting photos of my travel, when I feel like it, I refuse to let the pursuit of them dictate how I travel. #Livingauthentically (which is a ridiculous hashtag by the way, but let’s put that aside for now), and by extension, travelling authentically, is actually living those moments, not curating those moments.
This may not be “what the people want”, but you won’t be finding me running around with a selfie stick anytime soon. What are your thoughts?