Guilty as charged.
Picture this: You're posing with your friends under a giant "LOVE" sign made from kayak parts and other beachy paraphernalia during a bursting orange sunset in Cape Charles, Virginia. Sounds like an awesome vacation moment, right?
Well, excepts that you drove thirty minutes out of your way just to nab the shot for instagram and now you're going to miss your dinner reservation. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Increasingly, more and more people are centering their vacation itinerary around so-called "instagrammable" moments, and spending much of their vacation time glued to their smart phones. In fact, in a 2017 survey of 2,000 people by Expedia, 44% of respondents thought that social media ruined their holiday experience in some way, and the average survey-taker spent about nine hours of a week-long getaway on social media, as Travel & Leisure reported.
Of course, taking gorgeous pictures — especially when we're not unconsciously clicking the shutter button at every new vantage point — can be a nice keepsake and fun part of vacation. But when we do it to the point that we obscure our actual epic sunset views in favor of watching streaks of pink melt into the ocean through our phone screen, it's time to cut back. If you google "how social media ruins vacation," you'll be met with a daunting 46,000,000 results. Having combed through several of the top results, it seems the thesis is similar: Not only can social media obsessing put you in a negative mind frame on your vacation, but it can impact loved ones around you, and disrupt the views and experience of other hikers, sightseers, and wanderers.
As WIRED writer Mary Pilon puts it in an article that starts by documenting her visit to sacred site Angkor Wat, our urge to capture vacation moments can put a big dent in experiencing the special moment itself. "I took a breath and a sip, then raised my iPhone to the sky. Thirty seconds of cropping and captioning later, I posted on Instagram an odious, travel-envy shot of the moment, knowing very well that most of my friends back in New York City were cold, miserable urban yetis. Meanwhile, I was eating, praying and loving and now there was a 1080-by-1080-pixel image to prove it." says Pilon. "I didn’t post what was behind me...That scene — the fight for the perfect Instagram — is one I’ve witnessed over and over, on at least three continents during the last year or so. At times, it felt like destinations were morphing into mere photo sets."
So go ahead, keep your phone in your bag for that hike, or even leave it in the beach house for an entire evening. A few less instagram posts may actually make your vacation #perfect.