Our first contributor Khant Nyein Win questions to what extent we are prioritizing selfies over real-life experiences while traveling.
What comes to your mind when you heard “traveling”? I might be going against the odds here but I bet the term “selfie” will come out from many of you. “What would be a good place to take a photo? what kind of places or scenery would make my photo epic? How many likes can I get from the social media when I take a particular kind of selfie from a particular place?”
Even the tour business is offering things like “the bus will stop at what places to take photos, will offer a professional photographer to take photos”. And also some of the traveling people are hiring a photographer. Wanting a great photograph to save it for reminiscing later is no sin. Everyone wants a piece of memory to remember the good times. But what worth is a memory if you didn’t even get the chance to enjoy? Needless to say, taking photos is quite time-consuming, let alone to take a great or even so-called epic photos. People would take hours and hours spending at just one place to take photos. Enjoying the trip doesn’t necessarily mean taking photos exclusively; one can always wander around, meet people, eat local cuisine, search for wildlife, beautiful sceneries, enjoy the nature. Capturing a moment doesn’t necessarily need to be in photos. Capture it in your mind, in your senses and in your heart. Remember the scents, the taste, the view and the feelings. Not just in your phones or your cameras.
Recently, I went to Bagan twice; once all by myself and then again with some of my acquaintances who generally take lots of photos. While I was in Bagan alone, I went to almost everywhere and not only just famous places; to the abandoned monasteries, the burnt pagodas and pagodas being preserved as they once were because they are not famous and no one would visit; to the construction sites repairing the damages after the earthquakes during which I got the chance to enter and watch repairing in progress; a monastery overlying the Ayeyarwaddy river bank where you can watch the sunset over the river. My e-bike even got stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere.
During my second visit to Bagan which was a three-day trip with friends, we made to 10 places at most and spent most of my time waiting for my friends to take photos. I know that good times cannot be counted by the number of places you travelled but being stuck at a famous and typical mainstream place with lots of people just for taking photos for 4 hours is not going be better than even being stuck in the mud. Yes, it is true that some photos are pretty epic but personally, I would trade them with experiences in a heartbeat.
Selfie-addiction is becoming quite a problem worldwide. Especially when we live in a third-world country with relatively lower living standards; where we are denied a lot of opportunities to get rich or become famous and social media has become a placebo as our desperate attempt to get famous. There is almost zero chance we get clapped or cheered when we walk down the street and when people look at us but getting likes on social media is not that hard. And we love it, we love our photos being liked. We love when people said we look nice or cute or gorgeous. It boosts our spirit and let us escape from harsh reality for a moment. All in all, we become addicted to it; so much that all our efforts in everything are just to get likes.
I am not saying that you can’t take photos; just don’t take them all the time. Don’t use all of your precious time for photos. You don’t always need to be liked by people all the time, literally or figuratively. So, why don’t you put your phone away for a second, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment because they are much more precious than getting likes on pseudo social network by people half of who you don’t even know. Enjoy them. They are not coming twice nor will ever.