What is the impact of social media on travel?

Before social media, people would go on vacation, take photos on their roll(s) of film and then show a few good ones to loved ones and friends upon their return. Today there is no limit to the amount of photos you can take, you have room to take photo after photo. Not only can you take tons of photos while traveling, you can share them instantly on social media. In fact, stats show that 60% of travelers, and 97% of Millennial travelers, share their travel photos instantly while traveling. (Source : http://www.olapic.com/resources/the-impact-of-social-media-on-travel-inspiration_blog-p1aw-f1tr-v1th-t1sm/)

So how is this impacting the travel industry? Since the rise of social media photo perfect travel locations have seen a drastic increase in travelers. The iconic location of Trolltunga, Norway, saw an increase of 35,000 tourists from 2009 to 2014. This increase is credited to social media, everyone looking for the perfect Instagram photo.(Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travel-interests/arts-and-culture/how-instagram-is-changing-travel/)

And you might be thinking, well duh! Who doesn’t want to travel to Norway and sit on that cool cliff! But this phenomenon is happening in small local places too.

Just a few weeks ago a sunflower farm outside of Toronto, Ontario, had to shut its doors because it was overrun by tourists. This small sunflower farm regularly charged visitors admission to their sunflower fields, a little extra income for the farm before harvesting the seeds. However, after people starting posting their sunflower selfies on Instagram the sunflower farm had to shut its doors because too many visitors arrived and they were damaging the fields, and disturbing the peace. You can read the whole story in this article here.

 This might sound like whining. Don’t tourist destinations want tourists? Isn’t that their goal? And yes, there are social media campaigns that have increased tourism to an area in a positive way. The town of Wanaka, New Zealand saw a 14% increase in tourism after launching its social media campaign. A successful and wanted increase. (Source : https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travel-interests/arts-and-culture/how-instagram-is-changing-travel/)


Photo from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travel-interests/arts-and-culture/how-instagram-is-changing-travel/

 However, while cities might want this tourism the truth is certain places can’t support that sort human footprint. On social media you can Geotag your exact location, which allows for your followers to know exactly where that cool photo was taken. This has led to an increased number of people heading to previously secluded locations. In the last decade American National Parks saw a 26% increase of visitors. (Source : https://www.theringer.com/2016/11/3/16042448/instagram-geotagging-ruining-parks-f65b529d5e28) This is a significant number of more people on hiking trails. This increase in visitors has been accompanied by an increase in warnings given by Park Rangers. As visitors come they bring with them an ecological footprint that these spots can’t always handle. In addition to higher foot traffic there are also several cases of people vandalizing national parks. Cases of vandalism include lighting fires in a restricted areas to capture that perfect camping photo, or hopping a fence to get a closer shot. You can read about some examples here.  The result of this kind of social media travel, is a negative impact on our most precious nature preserves.

 So what is the answer? National parks exist so people can experience nature. Isn’t technology typically associated with a sedentary lifestyle so people getting outdoors should be a positive thing? But at what cost to nature. Don’t we want these parks to be around for our grandchildren’s children? Would simply removing the Geotag from photos help to solve this problem?

Twitter Logo #Nature is killing nature! Why social media travel isn’t what it always appears to be. https://bit.ly/2ORtUFj

Facebook LogoDid you Instagram your last camping trip? Or Snapchat that day hike? See how your social media reports of your #nature experiences are not always helping mother nature. https://bit.ly/2ORtUFj

Keeping up with the Joneses on social media.

woke up like this

Photo from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EFHbruKEmw

Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a problem in society. Your neighbour gets a new car, then you need a new car. Your friend buys a bigger house, then you need to buy a bigger house. But in the modern world of social media keeping up with the Joneses has taken on even more meaning.

As I scroll through my feeds on my social media accounts I am confronted with images and posts of everyone living idyllic lives, making me feel as though I don’t do enough with my life. I see posts of people going on camping trips, attending trendy events around town, and posting about their fitness accomplishments #JustAnotherMarathon. I can’t help but be overcome with this feeling like I’m not doing enough, like I’m not living my life.

I’m not alone in this. According to a German study cited in this article here one in three people feel worse after checking their social media profiles and seeing what their friends are doing, particularly if those friends posted vacation photos.



Photo from: Pixabay.com

But then I ask myself, is what I see posted real?  The video called “ What’s on your mind?”,  which you can watch here, demonstrates how easy it is to fake it on social media, and how damaging it can be for your psyche.

Whats on your mind

Photo from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxVZYiJKl1Y 

So hopefully you just watched the video and are thinking, ‘no one really does that’. But apparently they do, according this article here, one in five young people lie on their social media accounts about their promotions, relationships and vacations. In fact, the article continues to describe the mental effects lying on social media can have. Studies have shown that lying on social media actually changes your memory of a certain event.

So is this a fake it til you make it situation? If your not really be happy with your life, you should go on social media and fake a happy life and then you can find real happiness? That might not be the best way forward. Since according to studies, that you can read about this article here, people who spend more time on social media per day overall feel more isolated than those who don’t. One of the reasons it states is isolation through envy, and feelings of exclusion as you see people out at fun events.


Photo from: http://hitechnewsdaily.com/2018/06/is-social-media-messing-up-with-our-mental-health-study-says-negative-parts-of-social-media-can-lead-to-depression/

If I go back to my social media feeds, what I see is posts of my friends in loving relationships, or them studying for that big exam that is going to make their career. But what I don’t see is when the relationship hits a rough patch, or they don’t pass that exam. Unless we have a deep offline relationship I don’t get the chance to know their real lives. So I can’t help but wonder, is social media really helping us be more social? Or is it just making us afraid to be real, or make a mistake because it would tarnish our perfect profile?

Twitter LogoAre you still trying to keep up with the Joneses or rather the Kardashians on social media? There might be more behind those posts than you think.  https://bit.ly/2KtcHi5

Facebook Logo Truth time Facebook users are you posting real photos from you last vacation? What about that post about your last promotion? See why keeping up with the Joneses on social media can be an impossible task.  https://bit.ly/2KtcHi5 



Does social media help or hinder free speech?



Social media gives everyone a voice. Anyone with internet can create an account and start publishing their ideas and opinions. This is a significant change from pre-internet days, where if you wanted to voice your opinion to a large audience it required that you had some resources behind you. You would need to pay for printing or publishing fees, meaning it wasn’t accessible to everyone. Now social media has leveled the playing field, but what are the limits?

In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants all Canadians freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication, within reason. I, as a Canadian, am proud to have this right, and know I can express my opinion without fear of reprimand from my government. However in a world of social media the government doesn’t always decide on what can or cannot be posted on social media, it is the company that decides.


An example of social media companies making the decision on free speech is the Unite the Right rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11, 2017. This rally was organized on social media. The rally had their own Facebook page, and was trending on Reddit. After the rally the Ku Klux Klan leader tweeted that the rally was just the beginning. You can find more details on the rally and how it used different social media platforms in the planning process here.

Despite the United States having a similar freedom of speech law as Canada, the government did not step in to limit the group, nor did most social media companies. Most social media companies consider all content allowable unless you directly threaten an individual or a group. Particularly if you mask the language, since often it is computer programs that detect hate speech, not humans.

In the Charlottesville example, larger platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit didn’t restrict the users. They are, after all, a company and their goal is to attract members not to turn people away. However, a company that did restrict users was Airbnb. They investigated potential guests to determine if they were attending or using venues on Airbnb for the White Supremacy Rally, and evaluated their use of platform on a case by case basis.


Another example of a company deciding on freedom of speech is Facebook during the last american election. Facebook considered banning Donald Trump from its platform because the content he was posting was in violation of Facebook’s content standards. The full story can be found here. In the end, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg intervened and said Trump could stay on the platform, because removing him would be too disruptive to the election.

Again, the company decided on the posts and determined if they were discriminatory or hateful and if they breached that company’s policy.  This Maclean’s article discusses the ethics of companies limiting free speech on social media. It points out that because a company has more freedom than a government they are able to act faster to remove hateful content. But should they?

Should it be up to the president or CEO of a social media company to protect our freedom of speech or censor us? Their personal biases would obviously play into their decisions. Should governments step in and set up firm regulations for posting on social media to ensure free speech is consistent? Would that even work on global platforms? Which countries law would reign supreme? As social media quickly develops and new platforms emerge, can the government keep up in regulate something that is so fluently changing? 

Twitter LogoHello Twitter, can you hear me? Will you cut me off? Does social media help or hinder our free speech? https://bit.ly/2Lw72NN

Facebook Logo Have your voice and speak it too! Is social media helping or hindering our right to free speech? I want to freely discuss it! https://bit.ly/2Lw72NN




Social Media, the judge and jury.

Picture from : https://www.law.com/therecorder/almID/1202784626601/Should-You-Facebook-the-Jury-Yes-No-Probably/

We are all human and make mistakes. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” is regularly quoted after someone makes a mistake. Who among us hasn’t made at least one mistake in life? In fact, there are articles that state mistakes are good because by making a mistake you learn and grow. You can read one of those articles hereHowever, in the modern world of social media there is no room for mistakes. On social media there are no second chances, one mistake can actually ruin your life. An example of this is the Justine Sacco story. For those who are unfamiliar with her story you can watch Jon Ronson’s video here for the full story.

The quick summary is that Justine wrote one tweet to her 177 followers, and that one tweet completely destroyed her life. She lost her job and was threatened world wide for her post. All of this happened while she was on an international flight, so she wasn’t able explain her post or defend herself. Justine was destroyed before she even knew it was happening.  

Picture from: https://www.adweek.com/digital/breaking-justine-sacco-has-really-suffered-since-aids-tweet/

If you make the biggest mistake you can in our society, normally called committing a crime,  we have a system that dictates you are innocent until proven guilty. Before your conviction you get to present the facts of your case including the history, and the context before a verdict is made.

On social media however, the moment that a post is made the “jury” of followers begin the judgement. In Justine’s case people started skewing the facts against her without any evidence.  Someone commented that she came from a rich family, and that is why she was so entitled. This was not true, but the other members of the “jury” took it as truth.

Picture from: https://marketingland.com/new-rules-shame-game-126838

Justine’s story isn’t the only case of this happening. There are several other stories of people who had their lives ruined because of what they posted on social media. You can find some of their stories here.  I’m not trying to say that all of these people were innocent or that their actions were good. However, shouldn’t we be allowed make mistakes, even on social media? No one is perfect, jokes fail, particularly on a platform where tone can’t be interpreted. Where is our due process? Is whats happening to these people really justice?   

facebook icon

Social Media: The judge and jury….but are they a fair? Read about how your followers will be the jury for your mistakes. https://wp.me/p3QRy0-jCB


twitter icon

Social Media: the judge and jury. Read about how social media is the new judge in town. https://wp.me/p3QRy0-jCB