Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Travel Link-Up: Blog Addicts Anonymous (AKA When Blogging Ruins Your Ability To Just ... Enjoy The Moment)


I love blogging. I really do. I love sharing my experiences with you in real time on social media and reflecting on a memorable meal or trip or a particularly good sunset (or sunrise!) with you on here.

But sometimes, just sometimes - I wish I could resist my desire to share so much. Particularly during my travels.

And it's not even that I want to keep those moments "private". Rather, I want to keep them special. In sharing those moments, they lose a bit of their magic. In the rush to share, I lose focus and clarity of being in the moment. Of being present.

When we discovered this view from our suite at the River House in Balapitiya, Sri Lanka, it wasn't my husband I wanted to share the moment with ... it was my iPhone.


I look back at that moment with a lot of regret and - some shame. Because behind the very act of sharing (or the desire to share) this photo and other moments like it was a bit (or a lot) of narcissism, no? This is something I'm painfully aware of every time I click "publish" or "post" or "tweet". And yet I still do it.

But at the same time, I see my blog as a wonderful catalogue of my journey here in London (and beyond). It doesn't stray too far from my original intention back in 2010: to highlight the best and worst parts about living abroad. I still do that (best: ALL the adventures; worst: ALL the homesickness). I've never kept anything as detailed (with photographic evidence!) as this record of my memories since my small, spiral-notebook diary that I wrote in aged 7 (my foodie tendencies started at an early age, when I liked to record what we had or where we went for dinner).

And now, if I want to revisit the thrill of weaving through the busy streets of Hanoi on the back of a moped or the sensation of sinking my teeth into a gelato-filled brioche bun in Sicily or the hot, sticky heat of the Sri Lankan jungle, I can click on a link, read my words and look at my photos - and experience it all over again.

That sounded narcissistic too, I know. But it's the pleasure and joy of revisiting memories that makes me excited for the next adventure. Then ultimately, I remember why I'm blogging in the first place: for me.

Perhaps it's selfish - in a good way.


Going forward (as they say in horrible "office speak"), I'd love to make a conscious effort to limit the time I spend snapping photos and uploading them to Instagram when I travel. A friend suggested that I simply reserve the "first half" of each day for social media/blog-free activities - which I think is a great idea.

If you're a blogger, how do you limit the amount of time you're on social media? Or thinking of possible ideas for your blog? How do you keep moments special and enjoy them for what they are, instead of how they'll translate to your readers?

This month's travel link-up was hosted by Rebecca, Emma, Kelly, and Anna. Head over to their blogs to read more about their erm, blogging addiction!
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43 comments

  1. Oh Jaime, you've captured it in a nutshell... I am so guilty of this. The other horrible thing I do is cut people off mid sentence when we're walking around town to say "Oh! I've just got to take a quick picture!" I love blogging, I adore Instagram, but sometimes I also wish I cared a little less about the recording of it all...

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    1. I notice that I'm nearly always distracted with friends when we go out to a restaurant or cafe ... if it's someone I haven't seen for a while or a non-blogger, I'll put my phone away entirely so that it's not tempting to snap a picture!

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  2. It's a sticky web, indeed! When I wake up to one of those precious mornings, when the world is still asleep, I have the house to myself and decide to indulge in spending the entire morning reading, I manage to ruin that awesome feeling by automatically reaching for my phone. That urge to tell someone how quiet and tranquil your morning is, as if it isn't real unless the moment is recorded or shared... Very odd! Maybe the key is balance? If you figure out how then I, for one, am all ears! : )

    Gemma
    www.fadedwindmills.com

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    1. Haha, agreed, Gemma - I know the feeling and I think that balance is key! Think it takes a lot of self-control too ... ;)

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  3. Couldn't agree with you more - trying to find the balance is extremely difficult. When we went to Croatia the way I did it was to immediately take photos when we got there, sort of get it done, and then enjoy it - and if I saw any more snaps then it was almost like the approach of having holiday snaps? I don't think it was perfect (what is?) but it was at least a little bit better.

    Loved this, Jaime!

    Lauren xx | The Lifestyle Diaries

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    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! It's interesting to hear bloggers and non-bloggers' perspectives because I think that sometimes - for bloggers, at least - there's a certain amount of pressure that's felt to "capture" it all. xx

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  4. This is one of my favourite posts of the link-up. I love my blogging hobby but I do wish I didn't feel the need to document everything. I am a bit like Lauren and I take pictures as I usually would on holiday but I also try to upload them later or whilst we're on a journey rather than in the moment. I'm currently trying to teach myself to let the Instagram moment go by telling myself things like "just enjoy the stunning sunset, you don't need to document every. single. one. of them". Sure sign of an addiction when you start talking to yourself, ha! Laura x

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! Yup - uploading later rather than in "real time" is a great idea. I should practice that more often (and/or book a hotel that has no wifi ... although that might drive me crazy!).

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  5. This is something I really struggle with too. I'm a travel blogger and so I find myself always looking for content and stories, even when I don't realise I'm doing it. And it's so hard to find a balance between documenting and enjoying the moment. I don't really have any tips, but I'm going to Cuba next month, where there's pretty much no wifi, so it will be interesting to see if some time (4 weeks!) away from the internet will help. Anyway, it's nice to know I'm not the only one with this issue, great post!

    Yasmine | http://peekingduck.co

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    1. Hi Yasmine, thanks for adding your thoughts! I think it's especially hard for travel bloggers to *not* look for content or stories, as you say. Your surroundings and experiences are, after all, what inspires you. Maybe the lack of wifi on your next trip will really help you slow down! :)

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  6. Loved this post Jaime. Part of the narcissism is a feeling of bragging...look where I am!! But I think that's something we've have to accept with living our lives on social media. In terms of capturing our lives whilst travelling, fortunately Mr S also loves takes 1000's of photos on our camera and capturing every inch of our hotel / historical site / meal but social media can be a problem. Although the very nature of Instagram is 'instantaneous' I've stopped doing that, I may take a quick photos on my phone but I'll generally (though admittedly not always) 'gram it later. To be fair it's not just bloggers that have this problem I think with the huge rise in social media many people are lacking presence in the moment. When I'm in a wonderful place, I always remind myself to hold on to this moment and save the memory forever (cheesy but true)
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

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    1. Angie, I love this! I'm always telling myself to hold on to moments too - to try to absorb them as much as possible and keep them forever. I don't care if it's cheesy - it's what life is for! Lx

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  7. I think we all share too much on social media, sometimes without even thinking. I'm reminded of a photo I saw on Facebook recently (I appreciate the irony) ... it was during the Pope's visit to the US. Everyone in the crowd was busy holding up their phones, apart from one little old lady who was just standing quietly (and with a beautiful smile on her face) and actually looking, just looking and making her memories of when she saw the Pope. That image was a powerful one for me, and I'm a blogger, a scrapbooker and someone who carries her dSLR camera everywhere!

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    1. Agreed, Ruth! I love the image of that little old lady ... will try to hold that in my mind the next time I reach for my phone to tweet!

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  8. I've definitely been guilty of putting the photo before the experience and yet ... I'm not one of life's natural adventurers / travellers / go getters and so ... quite often I've pushed myself to go somewhere / do something / try something knowing that it'll make a good blog post. What I've learned from that is - I've actually become more accustomed to going places/ events etc ... and now it's just who I am, what I do. A case of faking it to make it perhaps?

    One good thing about never having had a smartphone is not being able to share my photos straight away. So it tends to help me focus on the occasion, then consider how to blog/share it afterwards. The thing is ... I'm buying a new phone soon ... with all the opportunities to share that will come my way with it. I'm going to find myself reassessing it all again very soon!

    Julie

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    1. YES - I think that getting my iPhone was a real game changer for me, Julie! It'll be interesting to see how you get on with your new phone :) Hopefully you'll still keep the same habits of sharing later and enjoying the "now". :)

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  9. I totally get this. My boyfriend and I have actually argued about it because he's like, 'Just stop taking photos!'. I consciously now make sure that I tell him what I plan to write about and that I sometimes just forgo a post for the sake of my relationship sanity! I've started a weekly 'Added Extras' post to just sum up some of the stuff that I don't need to write something full blown about. Just the things I like but probably with no fancy pictures. Scratches my blogging itch but keeps things a bit more hidden, in a way.
    Cx
    charliedistracted.com

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    1. John's the same, Charlie - he's been known to hold out his hand for my phone when I've been going overboard. And he's right and it makes me feel guilty. It's one thing if I've been invited by a restaurant or hotel for a review, but it's another when it's a holiday we've just booked for the two of us. Or if we're out for Sunday brunch or something. I like your "Added Extras" summary! That's a clever way of sharing without oversharing.

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  10. This is such a timely post, Jaime (and a great one at that); I think a lot of people seem to be experiencing this. Firstly, however, just let me say: don't be so hard on yourself! I totally understand where you're coming from though and often have meltdowns about blogging, because I think it has become so much more than 'just something to do' for so many people. My friend Mandy just wrote a post that I think you'll enjoy reading - all about her need to literally switch off the phone: https://besolful.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/unplug-to-reconnect/

    Oh - and I try as much as possible when I'm out with Dan to reserve updating/tweeting/Instagramming to when he's at the bar or doing something on his own phone - I know how annoying it can be to someone without *any* social media at all!

    Lxxx

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    1. Thank you, sweet Laura! I read your friend Mandy's post and it is so on spot! It does become a question of: when have I stopped doing "this" for me and started doing "it" for others?

      I've also started to try and curb my Instagramming ... John says it's okay if I have to snap a photo because he understands, but begs me to upload later! I need to listen to him more. :) xxx

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    2. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it! It certainly felt timely to me too, and both of your posts have made me think about my actions and 'transmitting' habits. I was talking to Dan about this afterwards and I think snapping then uploading later is the fairest way - we're lucky to have such patient husbands! xxx

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  11. I get this - I really do. I felt the same on my honeymoon, always wanting to capture 'the moment' to share on social media. I think it's a fine line between wanting to keep memories in this digital format because that's now how we're used to remembering things - with physical/digital evidence - and wanting to show everyone else this experience too.

    I'm trying to remember all the time that it doesn't have to be instant. I can take the photo and then put my phone down and still enjoy the moment, going back later to edit and share :)

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    1. Thanks, Charley - it's something I really need to remind myself of too. I'm definitely going to work on limiting my sharing to afterwards, rather than in the moment!

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  12. Great post, dripping with the ugly truth we try not to think about. What I've started doing is to take pictures as freely (but not obsessively) as I want, but save the social media sharing for either the end of the day, the journey back, or when I'm completely back home. That way I mostly avoid missing the moment, and it's also a little bit of a safety precaution too, so my whereabout aren't totally broadcasted to the world.

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    1. Thank you, Louise, and great idea re: posting later rather than in the moment. Yes to that safety precaution! I always get a little spooked by that (like when I post from a restaurant or geo-tag a location).

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  13. Another thoughtful, thought-provoking post, Jaime :) I have the opposite problem: not capturing "enough." I think doing activities on my own keeps me living in the moment -- when I'm with other people, that's when I feel the pressure to share things online b/c they're usually snapping photos themselves. It's taken me a long time to take to social media, and even now, I rarely feel like I'm doing anything worth tweeting/instagramming. But capturing the moment might actually help add to how meaningful it is. You're forced to look around and decide what you find most beautiful about what you're doing right then before preserving it in a photo or a blurb online.

    There's also the fact that spreading the word about a great restaurant or activity means helping other people to discover it! You've definitely given me lots of gems to look into on your blog :D

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    1. Thanks so much, Gianni! And I can always count on you to bring another perspective to the discussion, which I'm so thankful for. I like this thought: "But capturing the moment mighta ctually help add to how meaningful it is. You're forced to look around and decide what you find most beautiful about what you're doing right then before preserving it in a photo." I remember that view from our room in Sri Lanka so well - looking back at the photo, I can feel the sticky heat in the air and hear all the insects and monkeys again.

      Tjhank you for being so encouraging and so supportive - especially when I think aloud, like I did in this post. xo

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  14. You are 100% right - and you know you have the bug bad when you're out to dinner somewhere lovely, and your husband says 'well, aren't you taking your photos'... There is an absolute need for balance and enjoying the world rather than just photographing it...!

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    1. Yeah, John usually goes, "CAN I EAT NOW?" Ha!

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  15. "In the rush to share, I lose focus and clarity of being in the moment." 100% agree with you on this. While on my travels, I saw a view that made my heart skip a beat, and my first thought was 'I need to Instagram this!' I go through bouts of being really active on social media, than not doing anything for weeks. I find the break a nice way to reset, and remind myself life outside of social media is more important than likes and followers.

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    1. Thanks, Estrella. The self-imposed break from social media is a great idea. I was really busy a few weeks back and found myself on Twitter less often ... it kind of quieted my brain but it was a relief to know that I could just chime in when I was ready again and it didn't feel like I missed out on too much. :)

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  16. I am guilty of this too! What I try to do now is take photos but not post them on social media until later when I'm in bed, so there's less intruding on the present. It helps when I don't sign up for a roaming data plan and just rely on hotel wifi.

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    1. BEST idea ever, Dee. I should work on doing this when I'm on the bus on my way home, etc.!

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  17. i have an idea! let's take a trip together and have zero photos/posts/tweets/tags at all and just soak up every moment!!! ok one exception.. we make a LOL list at the end.

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    1. not even a mirror selfie??? i <3 u xoxpop

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  18. Totally get this - I don't tend to do much social media when I am away (limited to 3 photos a day on instragram on my last trip) and that takes the pressure out!

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    1. That's a great rule to have, Anna - I should try and enforce that for myself!

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  19. Interesting post! I don't think you are narcissic at all. I love to see other people's travel photos but I know not everyone would be interested. It's really cool that you have documented your travels on your blog so you can go back to read them. I make quite detailed scrapbooks of my holidays (like this: http://linda-lindasphotoblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/scrapbooking-holiday.html). But I've had a smart phone recently so did instagram and facebook photos from our last adventure. I only use the hotel wifi, which does limit time. I've often thought about not taking any photos at all and just soaking up the moment! Keep on blogging your interesting travels!

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda! Your comment made my day. I love your scrapbooks! Also, I am so impressed that you have not one, but TWO blogs! And so many talents! Amazing.

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  20. I get this. I now never upload anything to Instagram in "Real Time". People just want to see the pretty cake. They don't care if I'm actually sitting in front of it right now. And my 3Gs always dangerously low ;)

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    1. HAHAHAHAHAAHA! "People just want to see the pretty cake. They don't care if i'm actually sitting in front of it right now." TOO TRUE, TOO TRUE, Frankie!

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  21. I've been guilty of needing to "capture the moment" well before blogging, but now i use it as an excuse like it's ok now because there's a reason. I'm just addicted to taking photos!

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    1. Haha! I'm with you on that one, Dannielle! I used to take photos a lot too before I started blogging, but now I see everything as a photo op! Must stop ... :)

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