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Selfies have become a somewhat controversial subject and a point of contention, especially in the tourism industry. Every year, popular travel destinations are inundated with tourists jostling to capture that Instagram-worthy selfie, no matter the cost. This compulsion leaves a lot of people wondering if the purpose of travel has changed and evolved for the selfie generation. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind.
How the Selfie-Generation Travels Differently
Before the digital era, people still took photos of their travels. As cameras became more accessible, it wasn’t uncommon to run into a tourist with a couple of cameras strapped around their necks and a bag of film at their hip. Needless to say, technology has changed since then. Film is a thing of the past, and most people carry a high-quality camera around in the form of a smartphone. There’s also more solo travel and the realization that everyone can get in the photo. Another key consideration when evaluating how travel has changed in a generational sense is the ease of access. Air travel is more expansive and accessible than before, with options at various price points. Furthermore, social media has created more awareness of some of the world’s beautiful places. The selfie generation sees a beautiful location on Instagram, does some research, and adds it to their travel list. Finally, another consideration is the overall generational mindset shift away from wanting things toward desiring experiences. This generation is willing to spend more on travel because it’s a priority.
Has the Traveling Purpose Changed?
No one is jet-setting across the ocean to take a selfie. These travelers see a destination and want to go there— capturing a selfie is just proof of their existence in this spot. It’s really no different than the “Kilroy was here” phenomenon that started around World War II. Kilroy was a soldier that would write “Kilroy was here” in various places visited during his time with the army. It triggered decades of graffiti with people leaving their mark. So why not just take photos of the beautiful surroundings? There’s something validating in having proof that you existed in a certain place at a certain time. The selfie generation wants to show the world, “I was here, I mattered, I saw this place.”
Tips for Being a Responsible Selfie-Taker
The key to preserving the best selfie destinations for years to come is to be a responsible selfie-taker. The news is filled with horror stories about scenic destinations getting destroyed and selfie-takers falling off cliffs. Here’s how to avoid being one of those people.
Stay Within the Boundaries
Boundaries, fences, and signs are there for a reason. By passing them, you’re not only putting yourself at risk, but you’re also putting the natural environment at risk. Additionally, if you get in a precarious position, you’ll also be putting first responders at risk. Stay within the boundaries outlined by local officials.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
As of 2018, over 200 people had fallen to their deaths while taking a selfie. Many of them walked backward off a cliff or building while trying to get the right angle. Pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t walk backward. Ever.
Learn to Be Present in the Moment
Travel can be a profound and life-changing spiritual experience. While it’s natural to want a few photos to look back on, don’t miss the experience by viewing it from behind a lens. Snap a few photos, then put the phone away so that you can be present in the moment. Think about what you see, smell, and feel in this fantastic place that you’ve traveled to.
Venture to Lesser-Known Places
Finally, avoid chaos by traveling to lesser-known places. Discover your own beauty and choose your own adventure. Doing so will help reduce your impact on those popular tourist destinations and get an Instagram shot that no one else has. The traveling purpose has changed over the generations, but not in the way people think. Be a responsible selfie-taker, and remember to look up from your phone every once in a while.
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