It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time ~ Alexis Ohanian
“Take a deep breath while reaching your hands in the air. Now breathe out and fold forward. Halfway lift. And hang your head down, letting all your tension melt away.”
My boyfriend and I were recently at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, whose lawn has been converted into North Brooklyn Farms. On Tuesday nights there’s a sunset yoga class. Pebble-filled lanes wrapped around picnic benches and gardens, leading us to the lawn. To my left was the East River, creating a breeze that rustled the tall sunflowers, bouncing purples and oranges off their tops. The Williamsburg Bridge looked exceptionally large close up, the position of my yoga mat giving me a unique perspective below its industrial mass.
I took a deep breath and moved from plank to chaturanga, challenging myself to hold the pose before getting into my Vinyasa flow. My boyfriend was next to me, and we smiled at each other every so often between pigeons and figure fours. It was truly a perfect night.
Actually, it was so perfect it likely would have done really well if I’d shared it on social media. While I did take a few photos, this was a moment that highlighted exactly why I don’t use Snapchat. Because I didn’t want to leave the experience.
Living In The Moment
I believe that to be truly successful on a social media platform you have to share regularly. If you share one photo a month on Instagram you likely won’t gain much of a following; however, if you can stick to a schedule of high quality content you can succeed.
While immersing myself in the farm and its offerings I didn’t want to sit to the side and talk to my phone for Snapchat before taking photos for Instagram; I wanted to feel the sun on my face. I wanted to detach from technology and take in the blue sky as I moved into a back bend. I wanted to relish in this moment with my boyfriend without DMs, pings, popups, likes and comments. I wanted to just be.
The Importance Of Technology
Yes, Snapchat has relevance, and I understand why people like it. I also think the average person is way too consumed by screens to make the most of their experiences. Being born in the 80s I’m thankful for getting introduced to technology young; though I’m also happy to have enjoyed a youth of manhunt, costume fashion shows and making up gymnastic routines in the backyard.
While it’s not lost on me that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do — travel blogging — without technology, I also can’t help but feel afraid at how much it consumes us. My first few backpacking trips through Southeast Asia and Europe I remember using internet cafes — actual cafes with pay-to-use Skype and phones — to get in touch with home. I went on Facebook about once per week to update friends on my trip and kept a paper journal to document my days. Hostel common rooms were full of backpackers drinking beer and playing pool, not glued to their iPads. I miss those days a lot.
Why I Don’t Use Snapchat
I don’t use Snapchat because I find it overwhelming. It’s another channel to take me out of my experiences. Some could say that my DSLR does the same, and to an extent I agree. Typically, though, I’m able to take a photograph during moments where it isn’t disruptive. I can shoot the moments I feel are worth sharing, and decide later how I want to share them. Snapchat on the other hand is often an ongoing live story, where you’re sharing your experiences as they occur and interacting with followers. There’s also the danger of becoming so wrapped up in other peoples’ “awesome stories” that you wish you were somewhere else instead of appreciating where you are.
I get the appeal Snapchat, and I realize the importance of live video; but I can’t help but feel like an element of travel becomes lost when we’re constantly connected to our screens.
The Future Of The Industry
Am I shooting myself in the foot as a travel influencer? Maybe. But if the future of the industry is truly documenting every single thing I do on 10 different mediums, I’m not sure I could continue to be a travel blogger and stay sane.
My preferred social media platform is Instagram because I genuinely love writing and photography, and because of this my shares feel more natural. I also find that I can enjoy a trip fully, take a few select photos, and then craft my blog post later. My Instagrams are all mini #latergram blog posts. I can be in the moment on my trip and do the editing/posting later when I’m holed up in my room (or, as I like to call it, my bat cave).
When Instagram introduced the ability to share videos I nearly lost my mind. Now there’d be something else to worry about documenting while traveling. I’ve since gotten used to it, and have found a rhythm where I can take a few select clips during an excursion and edit them later in iMovie to create 1-minute-or-less videos, such as this one about about exploring Cobble Hill (Brooklyn) through food and this one showcasing a restaurant I enjoy in Bushwick. It’s fun, it’s a new way to share my travels, and I can mix and match between videos and photos depending on what feels right.
Now Instagram has introduced the ability to share your live stories. Sheesh. Not only am I supposed to be on Snapchat sharing my day live, but then I’m supposed to hop over to Instagram and do the same? These are the times when I really miss my non-techie job as a waitress.
I love what I do and understand it’s something to be thankful for; however, I hope everyone understands that being a travel blogger is so much more than just laying on a beach and writing. Actually, it’s barely laying on a beach and writing. It’s work. You’re a small business owner selling yourself as the product, trying to prove to the world through posts, photos, Tweets, Snaps and videos that you’re interesting and worth following. You’re a true hustler.
I get that people want to get to know the bloggers they follow better, and video is a great way to do this. For this reason, I have been working on putting together more short videos in my posts (as well as ramping up content on my Travel ASMR channel); however, when I’m enjoying a moment on the road or in my home of NYC, I want to be in that moment, not talking to my iPhone or heads down in my screen. To truly share my experiences with the world, I need to really live them myself.
Live Video & What’s To Come
Recently I spoke at the iSugar.Live NYC Conference — you can see my presentation here — where influencers in travel, wellness and tech provided tips and outlooks for the future. Digital storyteller and virtual reality expert Ryan Bell gave a speech that both scared and excited me. He spoke of a time, a time very near in the future, where the norm will be to walk around with glasses that keep us constantly connected. These would take Google Glass to an entirely new level with augmented reality capabilities and would likely become mainstream. How easy would it be to share then? Cool; though my fear is that nobody will know how or when to stop.
So there you have it. That’s why I don’t use Snapchat. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind and give in. Heck, maybe one day I’ll actually like it. As of now the app sits silently on my phone, where I sometimes receive funny captioned photos from my boyfriend. I do share live videos on Twitter from time to time via Periscope if I’m in an interesting hotel or walking through a unique attraction (like this share from the Bushwick Collective). But for the most part I want to share meaningful experiences with the world in a way that allows me to also find the meaning in the experiences (vs taking me out of them).
Do you choose not to Snapchat or do you love it? What are your thoughts on society’s ever-growing social media obsession?
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