I Went On Holiday And Didn't Post A Single Pic On Instagram
Did I even go on holiday at all?
I just got back from a three-week holiday. I spent about a week in the Middle East -- Dubai and Oman, to be exact -- and the remaining fortnight in Germany, Czech Republic and Austria.
I was lucky with the weather. Europe was beautifully sunny and clear, but it was rather too hot in both Dubai and Oman. I tiptoed in the stony silence of Gothic cathedrals, climbed up clifftops to roam around Arab forts and got scolded by a cranky German for talking too loudly in a quiet carriage on a train to Cologne.
You won't know anything about that, or whatever else happened on my trip, because I didn't share a word -- or photo -- of it on social media.
Not one single tweet, status update or Instagram post.
I didn't 'check in' on Facebook when visiting Checkpoint Charlie near the Berlin Wall. Nor did I share a Boomerang of the medieval astronomical clock doing its hourly thing at Prague's Old Town square.
Which begs the question: did I go on holiday at all? According to a lot of people, no I did not.
In our social media-obsessed world, if it wasn't documented on one of the Big Three -- that's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram -- it quite simply did not happen. Where's the selfie? Where's the proof?
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My answer to that is: in my head. That's where my memories are kept. The memories that I made exploring, tasting, tripping and tumbling instead of spending precious time trying to come up with a smart-yet-effortless caption for a photo of my gelato.
I'm starting to sound like Herr Crankypants from the train, I know, but I'm really not much of a social media participator. I don't tend to get involved. I'm happiest sitting on the sidelines, watching my feed bubble along, occasionally lol-ing and even less frequently throwing out a like or a witty comment. At least, I think it's witty.
To give you some context, I posted on Instagram a grand total of 11 times in 2017. That's less than once a month. This year, I've chalked up two posts -- one of which was work-related -- and it's already October. That's how involved I am.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the private side of social media. One-on-one and group chats is where I thrive. Memes, banter, cat videos fly thick and fast. But it's all behind closed doors.
It wasn't a conscious decision to go (even more) cold turkey on Instagram or Facebook while I was away. It's not like I thought to myself as I was boarding my flight, "Right, away with ye mobile phone, I needeth not your social media apps."
And it's not like I didn't take any photos. I took many, actually. A shot of a stunning multi-coloured sunset from a rooftop bar in Prague. Another of the proud facade of the von Trapp's imposing villa overlooking a glassy lake in Salzburg -- yes, I went on a Sound Of Music bus tour and yes, I did sing along.
Photography is not my strong suit, either, but the camera quality of iPhones these days even makes point-and-clickers like myself look good. So it wasn't that I didn't take any pics or they weren't Gram-worthy. They just never left my camera roll.
I have to admit that at some points -- perched on a cliff overlooking the glittering Arabian Sea was one -- when I did feel the urge to post a pic. But it wasn't so much because I wanted to, but more out of obligation.
Obligation to my Instagram followers -- all 144 of them -- to entertain and amaze them with my global gallivanting. To prove that I had been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
But really, is it possible for anyone to make a selfie in front of a well-known landmark like the Eiffel Tower look fresh and fun and like-worthy? It's looked the same for more than 100 years ... I myself haven't changed in appearance for several. Put us both together and you get an iconic piece of architecture and ... me.
Plus, a quick Google search means that you can view a photo of almost every inch of the globe -- every one of 30-plus replicas of the Eiffel Tower that exist around the world -- in nanoseconds. How is my picture going to be any different?
My close friends know by now not to expect any of my holiday happy snaps to appear online, but my social media silence does perplex others. Perhaps they're disappointed that they can't participate in my vacay by proxy. Perhaps they want to know whether or not I'm having a good time.
At the end of the day, I was on that holiday for me, and me alone. Which meant that when I did snap a photo I put my phone away immediately. And it was pretty empowering to claim something for my own.
I have a full-time job, family, friends, a personal trainer, an accountant, a therapist and they all want a piece of me each and every day and I love them for it. I would not have it any other way. But it means that there's often not much left just for me.
If skipping social media in order to keep a special moment just to myself then that's what I will do.
Next year I have my sights set on Spain, Portugal and maybe even Morocco. Don't hold your breath for any pics, though.