The me-first traveller: a person who positively positions himself or herself to be prominently associated with a given experience as opposed to merely presenting an image as a travel experience. Before further developing upon these thoughts, a short video will help to further illustrate my definition, but first let me take a selfie:
We’ve all done it. We are all one of “those people” who instead of taking a picture of something really awesome, we decided to pop our mugs in between us and what we are actually experiencing.
The source for the idea behind this blog post criticizes this approach to capturing the moment. But for me, I’m in too deep to launch any sort of critical argument against the movement. Maybe it’s psychological: we are all vain and self-absorbed. Maybe it’s for the sweet enjoyment of that meaningless online validation. Or maybe, we are all caught in this gigantic tidal wave of a movement.
A few person anecdotes outline my argument that it is hard to avoid this trendy and easy fad.
While studying abroad the University of Melbourne, I told myself that I wanted to document my time in Australia in a few unique ways. Firstly, I wanted to blog. Sadly, my blog sputtered and I’m not even bold enough to link it here. But the major takeaway from my failed blogging attempt is that I didn’t quite have the work ethic to carry onward with any sort of regimented routine.
The other methodology I employed to capture Australia in a unique “Dan Arnold” light is through the ever-prevalent selfie. I took many selfies during my five-month trip on the other side of the world. And while I initially told myself I would make some sort of comprehensive collage or slideshow of all my pictures, nothing ever really came to being. But in spite of this, I still took selfies all the way from the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef to my journey through New Zealand and my departure from the country. In fact, upon showing some of my pictures from my travels to my older sister, she was pretty upset with the excessive inclusion of my face.
So why do we use this approach to documenting our time? Why are front-facing cameras now a must in any new cell-phone purchase? Why can’t I just show my family pictures of the beautiful Australian landscape without my face occupying 75% of the shot?
Simply put, I do not know. From my personal experience, it’s out of ease. More broadly speaking, it could be narcissism. It could be the fullest utilization of the technology available to us. Or maybe, it is just something we really do not need to be asking “why” but rather, “so what.” According to an article in TIME from 2013, society over-analyzes the trend. It publically labels it negatively. Society does not like the selfie because it does not deem the photography approach as “normal.”
So who cares if travel quite literally takes on a new face for this generation? We do not need to waste our time deciphering the psychological and emotional charges of the youth. What we need to do is figure out how this affects everything else. The selfie trend is obviously not restricted to abroad experiences.
In my opinion, companies need to find a way to leverage this social media output. This article from Adweek delineates several ways in which the selfie can be a valuable contribution to brand promotion and digital marketing campaigns. Through contests and other creative methods of employing the selfie, the “me-first traveller” is not just a nuisance to his sister, but an important element of an engaging and easy way to spread a company’s message. The selfie is not going away, so we need to stop questioning it, and just embrace it.
Thanks for reading!