Every year around the holidays, my boyfriend and I go away. And every year, I wind up with approximately 30,000 vacation pictures that prove it. I’ve forced the poor guy to hike up advanced trails on Guana Island in tropical storms just for the shot. He’s trekked four hours to Baltimore to catch a country concert so I can get a few photos from the pit. He’s even played model on a private beach in Miami as onlookers watched, much to his embarrassment. (Sorry, Jake.)
Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of #SunsetPorn pictures, way too many Nashville-filtered dinnergrams, and enough visual renditions of Warrior poses to fill a how-to yoga guide. And yet, if you were to ask me the last time I swiped through the bulk of my iPhone photos, I couldn’t tell you. Presumably, you also own thousands of travel pics, dinner pics, cocktail pics. Hell, you probably took no fewer than 10 photos of yourself at some point today.
No pictures = better real-time experience
Newsflash: By not obsessively adding pics to Instagram and Snapchat, you also end up spending less time doing other stuff on your phone, a.k.a. actually getting to—gasp—experience your vacation. Most of us don’t think about how taking constant pictures begets checking email, shooting out a text, or refreshing social media apps.
Since I wasn’t spending time texting my friends epic scenery shots, or obsessing over capturing that beautifully-garnished piña colada, I spent a lot more time engaging my senses and—gasp—experiencing my vacation in real time. In fact, I felt empowered leaving my phone in the hotel room and just taking in what’s around me instead of using a bus ride through The Dominican Republic’s lush backcountry to fire off emails or trying to fight my way to the boat’s best vantage point to take the perfect water shot.
It’ll make your relationship better.
Picture this: You and your boo are snorkeling through crystal-clear water along a coral reef when you see a small shark swim through. Thank goodness you brought that waterproof camera so you could save all your friends and family back home from weekday cubicle malaise while simultaneously seeing how many Instagram likes you’ve racked up. Since I didn’t have that option, we spent time giddily freaking out over the cool thing we just saw.
You’ll become annoyed about how attached everyone else is to their phones.
This experiment made me sad, in a way. I don’t think constantly snapping photos is a bad thing, but I did notice how obsessive everyone around me was about it. Maybe subconsciously we know our time on earth isn’t forever and picture-taking is a way for us to capture something eternal? OK, maybe it’s just because we want to brag about our epic beach vacation, which clearly everybody I met was doing.
You might cave and take a pic (or two).
Yes, on my week photo detox, I actually did cave and take two photos. I was lying on the beach and noticed how a rock formation on Grand Turk’s beachfront looked particularly gorgeous twinkling in the sun and I quickly snapped a photo. This quickly turned into two, when I realized my finger was smudged with sunscreen rendering the shot beyond blurry. But I swear those were the only two pictures I took the entire trip!
When I got home, I didn’t even feel compelled to re-download Instagram (admittedly, I’ll occasionally visit the website, but that’s only thanks to my unhealthy intrigue in The Bachelorette’s Chad Johnson. It’s kind of like going on a juice cleanse: once you’ve detoxed your body and go back to your normal routine, you don’t really crave the same amount of junk. You feel reset, nourished and whole. Sure, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes not taking one is worth a million.