5 Reasons you shouldn’t use Instagram while on an adventure
It’s a real catch22 these days, when it comes to to discovery and documentation of really awesome adventures and expeditions. Social media plays a huge role… in fact a whopping 48% of us post on Instagram about places we’ve been at least twice per month, that’s huge. This also makes Instagram a great source of inspiration, and a perfect visual diary of our experiences. But, there is a darker side to Instagram that might be damaging your experience of the world. So, I’ve written up just a few reasons why I believe you should save the Instagramming until you get home.
Instagram depletes your dopamine stores
Dopamine is a chemical in your body that makes you feel good. It’s the ‘reward chemical’ that the brain uses to reward us when something good happens… think of it as nature’s way of patting us on the back, and getting us to keep doing what’s good for us. You might get a nice fuzzy feeling when someone you’re attracted to says something nice to you, or when you do something nice for someone else. The trouble is, Social media depletes your stores of dopamine, and your body can’t regenerate it quick enough. How does Instagram deplete your dopamine? Well it’s simple. Hundreds or thousands of tiny rewards over and over again, each time someone likes your photo, each time you see some content that you find interesting. That’s what makes Instagram so powerfully addictive… They even bait you to check it, by providing (or not providing) new content when you refresh the screen- similar to the slot machines in vegas, you can’t help but to refresh just in case something new will be shown. Over time, all these tiny vies for your attention, and miniature dopamine hits will deplete your stores. This means when you truly find something amazing, or have an incredible experience with someone, it’s going to feel just that tiny bit worse.
So, do yourself a favour, and keep off of instagram when you’re out on an expedition. You’ll have a better experience and will remember more of it.
Instagram sets unrealistic expectations
Adventure travel on social media is everywhere, and it is truly a great place to discover new expeditions and adventures. The trouble is, it’s also riddled with fakes and posers (cue woman wearing vastly inappropriate red ball gown and looking subtly over the shoulder while at the edge of Troll Tunga, Norway). Highly thought out, skilfully edited and professionally choreographed influencer content is not the real thing, and it damages your impressions and expectations. By gorging yourself on this type of content you are denying yourself two major things:
-the pure joy of seeing something for the first time with your eyes, and not through an edited photo
-the ability to truly enjoy a moment without inadvertently comparing yourself to someone else
Instagram is a motivator to do things your normally wouldn’t
No one would blame you for wanting some good photos before, during and after an incredible life experience, such as an expedition challenge, mountain climb or trek. But, the trouble starts when you’re motivated by other peoples impressions of you, to do things that you normally wouldn’t. A prime example of this, is people who spend 5-10 mins before eating taking pics of their food. This isn’t natural, and tarnishes and taints the authenticity of any experience. Who are you doing this trip for anyway?
Instagram and other social media platforms are so incredibly efficient at getting you to come back, that you’re thinking of content ideas while you’re not even logged in. This leads to all kinds of time wastage in setting up a posing for photos that are unnatural, just for something cool to post for your friends to see. You might be getting that lovely dopamine hit when the likes come rolling in, but is that better than experiencing fully the pure beauty and awe that you could have first hand, if you chose to put your phone down?
Instagram is a distraction
Aside from tainting your expectations of reality, and addicting you to the dopamine hit of a few likes, social media really is the best distraction of our time. Like addicts, desperate for a fix, most of us social media users reach for our phones when we wake up before we reach for our partners. We desperately search for wifi as soon as we sit down in cafes, and there are 539,000 google results for the question “Is there phone signal on Kilimanjaro?”. Doesn’t this strike you as a little worrying, that that is a genuine consideration before embarking on an attempt to climb the highest mountain on the continent of Africa? Well I can tell you that there is indeed signal on Kilimanjaro, but that’s beside the point. Try not to allow your phone to dictate your choices when you’re travelling, exploring. Yes it’s important to have contact with the outside world for safety, but do your self a favour and switch it off and be in the moment, until you need it.
Instagram wants things from you
Instagram is no long a “tool for social connection”, it wants things from you. When you don’t log in for a while, its algorithms will deliberately and effectively find ways to try to get you to come back online. To Instagram, you are nothing but a commodity, and when you’re eyes are bury staring at one of worlds many marvels, like Orcas hunting in the Antarctic, or the summit of K2 as the sun hits, you are not making them any money from advertising. So, they’ll do everything they can to get you back- sending notifications, new content, friend suggestions or requests until you eventually break and log back in. Not a major issue you’d think, but a sun set only lasts a few minutes you might get one chance in your life to see it.