I don't like travelling in groups. I rarely like doing anything in groups. But agencies/brands/PR love organising group FAMs (familiarisation trips a.k.a. sponsored trips for the purpose of promotion). And as a mediocre earner who worships travel, who am I to complain? But seriously, there's nothing more annoying than being subjected to the same images and videos from 20 different bloggers/travellers/writers over the same period of time. After a point, it feels like being brainwashed; like the worst form of advertisement. Tourism agencies, you really don't want that. And I wonder what insights one could probably have about a place when one is so busy photographing/recording/posting every other minute in a bid to outdo every other person on the same trip?
1.5 years into travel blogging, I still crave individual invites because isn't travel more about immersing and experiencing than competing to give the maximum coverage and ruining the surprise completely for future visitors? People really have forgotten the art of teasing with the right amount of information over overdosing with a barrage of photos and videos that leave little unsaid.
I've faced some flak over my preference for words even in this "instant era" of images, videos, Snapchats and Youtube. But the problem with videos/images is that they leave little to imagination. And that's why I still prefer the layered mystery of words over anything else. Videos and photographs can also be thought-provoking but they have to be very well thought-through and executed for that. That requires planning, time and technical expertise. That's not the case with words. Even a few drunken scribbles on a tissue paper can be profound. Because that's just how words are. They let our minds wander, leave room for interpretation and inspire thirst to experience what the writer did, without giving away the entire story.
Frankly, if I had seen a 100 videos of the Eiffel Tower before I actually went there, I can't imagine how underwhelmed I would've felt. I'm glad I was relatively unexposed to social media in those days. And even now, any research I conduct is purely relating to the itinerary. I am definitely not interested in seeing edited versions of a place I'd rather perceive with a fresh set of eyes.
Brands and agencies crowd this age of information load with their demands for more and more posts, more and more coverage, more and more live tweets. It's never ending. In my opinion, two or three posts a day are more than enough, as long as there is some variation between various social media streams. Let the traveller soak in the place, spend hours staring into the foliage and jotting down thoughts in a diary.
I know I'm being dismissive but I really feel apps like Snapchats are designed for frivolity. What could you possibly convey in five words and a picture? A lot, I'm sure some would say. But I know for sure that I could convey a lot more than that with a 140 character tweet or a 500 word blog post. And I'd rather do it when I'm travelling for myself, than with a gaggle of voices constantly intruding into my blooming love affair with a new destination.