In my previous blog entries, I explored social media and the five senses – smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste – and whether the tools available through social media can recreate the true essence of my travel experiences in the South Pacific. I have realized that I can only create memories. Even though I can share these memories with friends anywhere in the world, I cannot truly recreate the full engagement of the senses and the emotions of a given experience. For this reason, when I am traveling, I prefer to live in the moment of the experience and leave the addictive social media world behind. I know this is not true of all travelers.
The use of social media has dramatically changed since I first traveled to the South Pacific in late 2008. This was extremely evident as I watched passengers on the MS Paul Gauguin snap photographs of bold sunsets using iPads instead of digital cameras, as I saw them, moments later, uploading those same photographs to Facebook, as I overheard Facetime chats with grandchildren who were back in the United States, and as I constantly heard the older population on the ship complain about the spotty connectivity and expense of the internet. It was amazing to understand how everyone seemed to expect constant connectivity with the places that they had been left behind on the other side of the world. I have always believed that traveling and vacations were a way to leave that world behind, for a short time, but now, people seemed to be more concerned about staying connected. I wondered if experiences were being missed because of this need.
I can use social media to share, to search, and to discuss my experiences, but I can never truly capture the reality of the experience or the culmination of all the senses.