There’s this big assumption that anyone who takes a lot of photos while on vacation is completely checked out of the present moment — and mostly just checked in to making you feel like shit about your own life (not nearly as much of which is lived from an exciting, beautiful locale).
I, however, say fuck that.
If you hate vacation pics, you shouldn’t be following me on Instagram. (Of course, if you happen to love vacation pics, find me and follow me ASAP.) After all, in the last few weeks alone, I’ve posted photos from San Agustinillo, a tiny beach town in Oaxaca, Mexico, Mendocino County in Northern California and myriad other destination spots I’ve found memorable chill within.
On Instagram then, you can see me sipping a fresh coconut at my favorite Oaxacan juice bar, pretending to accept my Sports Illustrated Rookie of the Year award in front of an ultra-blue piece of the Pacific Ocean and strolling through an outdoor cannabis grow in the sort of conservative-bohemian outfit I only wear when I’m in NorCal (“Berkeley mom” is one of my favorite sub-personalities).
And while these all happen to be recent trips, I’ve only just begun disseminating content from them. In fact, there are still photos of me in a black evening gown, luxuriating in front of a beach bungalow; videos of me inhaling weed smoke at an outdoor dab bar in the middle of California farmland; and even a Boomerang of me rolling into the Pacific Ocean that hasn’t hit my ‘Gram yet. Oh, and I can’t forget about that “mini-documentary” I shot of a family-run Oaxacan textile operation, beginning with an introduction to each plant they use to create their natural dyes. That will surely hit my “story” soon enough — but still months after the actual experience.
Obviously, my true existence is more mundane. Generally speaking, I spend far more time in my office (i.e., a room in the same house I grew up in) with my shoulders aching and my back freezing from the hours I spend hunched over my laptop. But while there are few social media cliches that unnerve me more than referring to one’s Instagram as a “highlight reel,” I certainly don’t feel compelled to share a shot of the ragged hand-drawn calendar, two empty cans of Pamplemousse La Croix and broken eyeglasses sitting on my coffee-stained desk at the moment. It’s not 2012. No one gives a shit about my actual reality at home, especially because I’m not a wellness influencer with a pristine smoothie-making set-up.
And so, I see traveling as a chance to escape and expand my reality — an opportunity to spend time outside the familiarity of my routines and customs and to become better acquainted with who I am and what I love. Documenting these experiences gives me the chance to return to them and find solace in the spirit of the memories they represent. Pulling up one of these vacation shots, especially the “live photo” versions, inspires a slew of sense memories that transport me back to the peaceful, grateful and unplugged spirit of traveling. All of which makes me feel better when I’m staring down my to-do list or the bills I need to pay.
Nor do I have any guilt about savoring those memories on Instagram publicly as opposed to privately via my iPhone camera roll.
I mean, remember when I left the U.S. for the first time and found myself in Cambodia, admiring Angkor Wat at sunset? Or when I went to Jordan and visited Petra, the city carved out of stone that dates back to the 5th century B.C.? How about my two-week stint in the West Bank and Israel learning Palestinian and Bedouin history?
If your answer is “no,” you prove my point. Most people weren’t even on Instagram yet when I took these trips — so why do you care if I keep them there as my digital scrapbook? Moreover, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no expiration date on posting photos from them. So if I want to post a memory from them tomorrow, I will. I’m simply offering my digital community — people, mind you, who have chosen to follow me — a glimpse into the experiences that inform who I am today and as a guide they can take or leave when planning their own excursions to similar destinations.
Haters will say people like me are desperate for continuing to indulge in our vacation photos as if time doesn’t exist, but to that I say, time is fake and love is real! Or more pointedly, I reject the idea that Instagram is designed to display temporal reality. How boring. If anything, I will never forgive Instagram for betraying us by replacing its original, reverse-chronological timeline in favor of feeding us content in its creepy, algorithm-influenced way.
Plus, part of the pleasure in posting my vacation photos for as long as I want is being able to do so whenever I want — atop the toilet at the end of a particularly long day, waiting to board a plane at the end of my trip or while sitting in my dentist’s office two months later.
Because, if nothing else, the view is always so much better from vacation.