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Are you experiencing your travels IRL?

Are you experiencing your travels IRL?

It was a sunny spring Sunday, and we’d taken a train upstate to immerse ourselves in nature by hiking up to Anthony’s Nose.

There are 2 ways to get up to Anthony’s Nose, both of which take about an hour. We’d extended the hike by taking the Camp Smith Trail, which added an extra hour of hiking time.

After the 2.5 hour hike (if you can math, then you’ve probably realised that it should have taken us only 2 hours, but as per tradition we’d managed to get lost at one point), we arrived at the scenic vista point with views over Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson Valley.

Ecstatic that we’d finally reached the top, I snapped a few photos, but then put my camera away to enjoy our packed lunch of bread rolls and hummus. We sat and admired the view along with other hikers and families who’d spent the weekend getting active.

View from Anthony's Nose

The view from Anthony’s Nose

Looking around, I noticed the arrival of a couple to our right. The woman was dressed trendily in yoga pants and a crop top, and was facing away from the view and holding up her smartphone for a selfie. Her boyfriend waited patiently while she was taking photos.

A few minutes later, I glanced over and noticed that she was still pouting at the camera. I couldn’t believe how long she was spending on her attempt to get the perfect selfie in front of the view.

I looked away and continued eating my lunch, but curiosity had taken hold, so I continued glancing over to check on the status of her selfie mission. Over the next 15-20 minutes, I did not see her look at her surroundings once. Her eyes were glued to the screen of her smartphone.

When we eventually got up to make our way down the other side of the hill, I looked over at her one last time and felt a pang of sadness. This girl was so obsessed with the act of sharing the hike with her friends on social media that she’d not even enjoyed the beautiful scene in front of her.

Hiking the Camp Smith Trail

Hiking the Camp Smith Trail

Now I’m sure you can all guess that I’m rather into both photography and social media. I think it’s great that I’m able see what my friends and family are doing when they post updates on Facebook, and I do the same when I have photos or news worthy of sharing.

But how could we ever let this ability to share get to the point where we don’t actually experience things in real life? Internet accessibility can be a blessing, but it might just get in the way of in-the-moment experiences.

Life isn’t just about the photos we take and what we share on social media. It’s about experiencing things for what they really are. In an era of smartphones and constant internet access, we need to make sure we’re not just travelling over social media.

I’ve noticed this trend becoming more common in my Instagram feed too. Where I once saw photos of people having the time of their lives and sharing beautiful photos of their surroundings, I now seeing more and more posed shots that have obviously been set up purely to get the maximum number of likes.

I’m aware that this case of the hiking girl is probably a rare scenario, and that many of you would already make an effort to experience your travels IRL instead of through the screen of your camera or smartphone, but it scares me to think that in the future, this could be a normal way for us to live our lives.

So, next time you see something amazing or do something memorable, by all means, take a few snaps, and then remember to spend a few minutes soaking it in with your eyes. You’ll likely find that this creates a more vivid memory than the one captured on your screen.

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