Do social media and travel writing work together? I mean, really, truly work together. Let me state, for the record, that I’m not slating the likes of Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon when it comes to sharing travel tips, stories and photos – I do think there is a place for them (hell, I use them!). But in the last few weeks I’ve read a couple of articles that have made me question the way that we now interact with one another and share our ‘experiences’.
One of the pieces in question was in this week’s edition of Stylist (a free women’s magazine given out on public transport in London) . The basic posit of the article was that with the availability of, and constant access to, the internet and other instant forms of messaging, we are now losing our ability to interact and communicate with people on an ordinary level. We have no patience and limited concentration. Rather than coming together, we are driving ourselves apart – losing the ability to listen, empathise, or appreciate the situations we find ourselves in by sufficiently reflecting upon them. In short, we are so quick to update our statuses and share our instant thoughts with everyone we ‘know’, that we actually miss out on the event that we are so keen to tell everyone about. Recognise any of this? I know I do.
Putting this into context, how many times have you been to a gig and watched people (or yourself) filming/ watching the band through the screen of their phone? Or discovered an incredible view that, rather than commit to memory, you snap quickly on your camera before moving on? We’re so keen to hold on to the memories that we actually fail to make the memory itself by living in and embracing the moment.
So, going back to my initial question… do social media and travel writing work together? Can we be mindful of the things occurring around us, note the things that each of our senses pick up, if we’re constantly attached to a screen and keyboard of some sort? However much I want to believe that they can, I’m not sure that the two things work together – not entirely, anyway.
I decided to carry out an experiment – to do my usual 4-mile walk home from work without turning my iPod on, without talking on the phone, and without any other distraction. Basically, to let my mind roam free and to try to focus on, rather than shut out, the hubbub of London. To live in the present, rather than in the instant. To see the bigger picture. Want to know what I discovered? Well, in the true spirit of ‘mindfulness’, I’m currently taking time to reflect on the journey (that’s the step we’re apparently increasingly missing with our reliance on social media), so you’ll have to wait and see. Try to be patient… I know how hard it is, but I’m working on it, too!
In the meantime, why not get practising with the two-minute relaxation challenge?