I’m not a traveler.
That’s the tagline of my friend Erfix‘s signature t-shirts, that he produced and sold to friends. I guess this may be a reaction to the uprising trendiness of being a traveler for the sake of taking photos without actually enjoying the trip and appreciating the experiences. This is a deliberate and tangible act to redefine the meaning of a traveler.
I also have a similar reaction to ‘plang travelers’ (plang is Indonesian word for signpost). They usually travel to hip trendy touristy places, only to find the signature signposts of the place and take photos of themselves in front of the signposts, then upload them shamelessly in their social media accounts. It’s like having a bucket list of places to visit and put a tick after tick by checking in Instagram or Facebook.
There were cases in the past where this so called plang travelers, in the quest of having the title of cool traveler, invaded relatively new beautiful spots, just to be the first having their photos taken, without really caring if they brought massive damage to the environment (remember the case of thousands of visitors stampeded and totally damaged an amaryllis garden which only blooms once a year in Jogja last year only to take their selfies?) Or the case of those who didn’t really think about their safety when they take selfies in an totally exotic but dangerous spot and tragically met their Creator?
I’m not against taking photos of any trips and posting them in social media. I have to admit that I did shamelessly post my photos of my trip to Newcastle recently to all of my social media accounts (Instagram? check! Facebook? Live! Twitter? Of course!), but honestly, I didn’t do it in the name of being a trendy traveler. Many times I did a trip because I had to be in that city due to work-related activities, or because I was meeting friends. There were very limited risks that I destructed anything or endangered myself or others. I even tried very hard not to pose in front of any signposts, or if I did so, I posted the photos in an album with a very non-descriptive photo as the cover of the album, to avoid envy to my audience.
I’m a not a traveler, if it only serves the purpose of me being a hipster, not caring of the places that I visit and the experiences that I encounter along the trip. Maybe my definition and Erfix’s definition of a traveler is an antithesis, but so what?
The question to ask to yourself is, what kind of traveler are you? How do you define your identity of being a traveler?