Editor’s Desk: Volume 50, Issue 17
Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
“Why see the world, when you have the beach?” – Frank Ocean
Other than the occasional trip south of the border, the last time I left Canada was in 2012. I was in Grade 12 and was part of a group of students sent by our high school to act as ambassadors to its sister school in Fuyang, China.
The trip, which lasted a little over two weeks, also included stops in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. My China trip was, as romantic as it may sound, life changing – travel often is. University students, or anyone in their 20’s, are no strangers to hearing their friends and peers preach about why they should study abroad or spend a summer in Europe or Asia. Travel, however, can also lead to contentious conversations around elitism, voluntourism and luxuries. One possible root behind the dark side of travel is social media – especially oversharing.
I’m not one to bemoan about social media’s detrimental effects to society, but one of the most troubling victims of social media is the romanticism of travel. I always saw travel as a means to “get away” and the old adage that many travellers live by is that it is a way to find oneself. This ideal simply no longer exists.
Our journeys away from home are now intensely documented. Everyone’s a blogger these days and what seems to have been lost in the equation is the serene intimacy that the sharing of cultures can bring. 2012 is over half a decade ago and technology and communication has continued to grow since then, but retrospectively, maybe what made my China trip so great is our complete isolation from our personal social newsfeeds.
I saw and did a lot of memorable things in China, and those things remained strictly as memories. They didn’t momentarily live on Snapchat or Instagram, and maybe that’s for the better. Granted, it does help that access to social media was nearly impossible for me while in China.
This doesn’t exempt me from our growingly problematic adoration for over-sharing. Every trip to the Canadian University Press’ annual journalism conference is laden with dozens of Instagram photos of what I saw, what I did and what I ate.
Oversharing is just part of the problem. My other old-man gripe about travel culture is how easily we ignore the local beautiful spots that Canada offers. This week, our copy editor, Leah Scheitel, takes a long hard look at what makes Canada a wondrous travel destination – not just for tourists coming from other places, but Canadians themselves. To see the world is a great and ambitious goal, but that shouldn’t mean that we forget our own backyard. BC alone offers a potentially tremendous experience for travellers – one that exhibits the true beauty of the pacific coast.
Travelling can be life changing, and travelling vicariously through perfectly curated adventure Instagram accounts is not nearly representative of the experience, nor are they realistic goals to aim for.
The world is full of questions. Its just maybe we should keep the answers we find to ourselves, and let everyone else find their own way.