I recently went on vacation with a friend of mine who, instead of experiencing things with me and being in the moment, looked at our trip together as one big photo shoot. Now, while I'm all about taking pictures, capturing memories, and even sharing them on social media (hey, it's fun!), I'm not OK with taking 30-plus photos to get the "perfect" shot or letting photo ops dictate an itinerary. Which is pretty much exactly what happened.
I wanted to remember the views with my own eyes, not looking at it through a screen and clicking a button over and over again.
About two weeks before the trip, we couldn't even talk about what was supposed to be an epic adventure between friends without bringing up Instagram. She made a list of all the places she wanted to get photos and even picked out and coordinated outfits for these shots that she envisioned to share with her followers. We were influencers but without any influence.
And I get it. Instagram has made pretty much everyone into a model these days. And why shouldn't you share cool photos that make you feel good? But a lot of the time — like on our vacation — it's not about capturing a genuine smile in a spontaneous moment anymore. It's about faking it, staging it, and trying to look like you're having the time of your life even when you aren't.
I was happy to take pictures, but it soon reached a point where I wasn't enjoying myself. I love my friend, but I hated what she had made of the trip. I wanted to remember the views with my own eyes, not looking at it through a screen and clicking a button over and over again. I wanted to really soak up every aspect of our trip and validate it through those moments instead of only feeling good about what we were doing and where we were through "likes."
On the last day of our vacation, we headed out on an all-day boat adventure. I gently suggested that we both leave our phones (aka cameras) in the room. She looked at me like someone had died. I started laughing because I didn't think my request was so terrible. I mean, we were in this beautiful place, and it deserved every ounce of attention we had to give it. With major hesitation, she gave way, and we didn't take any photos that day. It was the best day of the trip. We got to really explore and make memories for ourselves instead of worrying about capturing content to share with other people. The day was ours, and it was awesome.
In lieu of picture taking, we spent the day listening to music on and off, which, in a way, is very similar. Whenever I hear those songs now, I'm immediately taken back to those moments and vivid memories from our trip flash through my mind. And while I don't think my friend will abandon her photo-shoot-planning ways anytime soon, I think she maybe learned that it doesn't have to be constant. That some things are meant to be experienced without a camera. And that some friends are worth compromising for.