Two Things You aren’t Doing Right on Instagram and How You Can Change

Dear Incessant Instagrammers: Here’s a Reminder to Put Down Your Phones Every Once in Awhile

We woke up at 3 a.m. to drive, then climb, to a viewpoint to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo. The moment the sun reared its head over the horizon — casting a brilliant array of pink, orange, and purple across the smoky summit — a girl jumped in front of the crowd with her iPhone. Eyes fixed on the screen, she reached to capture the view from every angle — obstructing everyone else’s view in the process — while trying to get the perfect shot.

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Then she sat with her back to the view and started picking filters.

Social media should enhance travel, not take away from it.

Social media can be great when you travel — it can help you trade tips with other travelers, stay connected with loved ones, and keep in touch with the people you meet along the way.

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But social media can also be a distraction. The desire to show the best versions of ourselves online, and the inherent comparison with our peers that follows, motivates people to capture moments in order to share them; enjoying them becomes an after thought.

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By using Instagram this way, people encourage one another to commodify their experiences; they begin to mistake the quality of their photos for the quality of the moments they portray.

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We have better experiences when we’re fully immersed in them.

Studies show what we long suspected: traveling has positive effects on your mind, but those same studies show that those positive effects dramatically reduced when people did not engage with their environments.

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In other words, if you want to reap the benefits of travel, simply seeing and snapping photos isn’t enough. You have to immerse yourself — be fully present in your surroundings.

By all means, aside time for social media — share what you’re doing, capture moments, and make art — but then put the camera down. The most memorable moments are impossible to capture anyway.

Christina Garofalo is a contributing writer to A&H. Lookout for her pieces monthly from travels and lessons, to pieces of advice passed on. 

* Photography from various, sourced by author*