I wanted to take a little pause from travel blogging and add my tuppence to a growing discussion on our relationship with social media, tourism and Scotland. Firstly, go and read Laura’s project exploring the relationship between tourism and social media and Mel’s post on finding your own Scotland. Did they hit a nerve? Yeah, for me too.
Let’s start with the reality. I am a blogger, an Instagrammer (I have two pages, @lovefrmscotland and @_smidge) I have a Facebook page. I travel to somewhere new in Scotland every week. Since the new year, I literally haven’t stopped travelling. It could be said that I am partly the cause of the problem – after all, I post about my travels on social media every day.
To be honest, it all got a bit too much recently and I had to take a step back, take a mental health day and not take part in a promotional social media campaign with my fellow Scotland bloggers – #scotlandthefave. Instead, I headed to the Cairngorms, one of my favourite places in Scotland for a very long walk. Did I feel guilty for letting them down? Of course.
But at that moment, I realised getting out and actually enjoying Scotland was far more important than sharing it on social media. I’d got so wrapped up in content creation, likes, followers and writing for SEO that I’d completely forgotten why I do it.
We are not alone in this. We spent New Year 2018 in New Zealand – and top of my list was climbing Mount Roy with its stunning views across Wanaka. Now Mount Roy has recently become something of a New Zealand tourism attraction, thanks to a certain Instagram shot you can take from a promontory known as Roy’s Peak. In fact, taking the shot is now so popular that there is often a queue. For most people, the shot is the sole reason for climbing halfway up a mountain. They don’t even reach the summit. What’s the point in that?
Instead, I climbed to the top of that 5000ft hill. I didn’t even take the photo from Roy’s Peak.
I didn’t take a photo of New Zealand’s famous Moeraki Boulders (I couldn’t see them for people posing on them) nor the over-hyped Wanaka Tree, nor did I stand in a field of lupins staring off to the mountains either – every location across New Zealand had crowds of people with selfie sticks or Instagram husbands doing exactly the same pose. You’ve probably seen it on the Instagram post with 20k likes.
Sadly, you will see this right across Scotland too, from the Fairy Glen to the Fairy Pools – and its not just a Skye problem either. Against the backdrop of stunning beauty is an obsession for people to Instagram themselves into it, or to create highly edited or fake images of our quite frankly, beautiful even without a filter, landscapes – it’s all incredibly depressing. What has happened to us?
Instead, I want you to know how it feels to climb your first Munro. I want to show you how have the time of your life getting drunk on whisky with the locals in a bar on Islay. I want to show you that anyone (even a squishy, unfit, scaredy-cat, 40 something like me) can try paddleboarding for the first time – and you can do it too.
I wanted to show you that you can go snorkelling with seals in the Outer Hebrides. That you can go coasteering in Fife. Kayak around a castle on Barra. That you can be awed watching ospreys fly past your tiny remote cabin sitting on the edge a loch and see red squirrels appear at your window…
Somewhere along the way, I lost why i do this. Thankfully, I can change. I can stop doing things for the ‘gram, for likes, to increase my follower count, for ‘professional content creation’ or at my worst, to want to become an influencer.
So instead why not join me in getting out there and experiencing Scotland for yourself? Not for a photo of you doing it, but to actually do it. Yes, you will have to deal with the hoards of Instagrammers, they aren’t going anywhere soon sadly. Yes, it will rain, yes you will probably have a meltdown halfway up your first hill, yes you will fall in a bog, yes the food will occasionally be deep-fried frozen crap.
But it is all part of Scotland, and there is more to experience than you will ever realise. Just remember to do it for the love of getting outside and experiencing Scotland. Surely that is the point of life, after all?
Love, from Scotland x