This weekend I did something that I’ve wanted to do ever since I signed up for French classes in the seventh grade – I went to Paris. Prior to this trip, I’ve seen Paris in movies, on social media, and experienced the city secondhand through my mom’s tales of her travels in France. However, nothing could have prepared me for the beauty and enchantment that met me once I got off the train from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Thankfully for all my loyal social media followers, they were able to experience the trip in real time through my persistent, if not obnoxious, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat updates.
The second I landed (and got cellular service), I uploaded a photo of my roommates and I to my Snapchat story. This photo, of course, contained a Paris geotag, to ensure that just in case my Snapchat friends missed the story I had posted of my Paris plane ticket/Paris guidebook/post-takeoff to Paris selfie, they would be fully aware that I, in fact, was in Paris.
Shortly after eating our first Parisian meal of steak frites and creme brulee, my roommates and I climbed the Arc de Triomphe. I had wished we waited longer after our meal to climb the Arc, because it was, in fact, a climb. After what felt like thousands of steps later, we reached the top. Once seeing the breathtaking view at the top, which encompassed almost all of Paris, the first thing on my mind was ‘what a photo op.’ Of course I enjoyed seeing the spectacular view in person, but I wanted to ensure that everyone traveling to other countries this weekend, and everyone back in America, could enjoy the view as well. I took a selfie, with the Eiffel Tower in the back of course, to upload to Facebook.
In addition to sharing multiple images on myself in front of iconic Parisian monuments and views, I shared many images of the many, many things I ate in Paris on social media. What good was eating escargots if there was no images of the snails themselves on my Facebook page, or videos of my friends trying this exotic dish for the first time on Snapchat?
I also documented the pastries I ate, the wine I drank, and the French truffles that costed me a lot more than a Hershey (or Milka, for my European readers) bar. Why eat copious amounts of butter, carbs, and sugar if there were no Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat posts to prove it?
Paris was a beautiful city, filled with more charm than any Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly movie. However, I wonder if I would be able to more fully immerse myself in the enchanting sights and culture that surrounded me if I wasn’t so focused on making sure that all my friends and family experienced the city as well. Similar to the old philosophical question which asks, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ I wonder if I travel somewhere new and exciting but fail to post about it on social media, if I really traveled anywhere. And, of course, the answer will always be yes.