If I’m to be kind, I would say people use social media to purely express themselves more creatively, through words and visuals, without the need for validation — but I’m not in the mood to be overly considerate and sugarcoat today.
Let’s face it — social media is another way of saying “Look at me! My pictures, words, and opinions are worth your time. Look!”. And so, the never-ending cycle of cyberspace interaction begins. It isn’t anything intrinsically bad. As a matter of fact, when we use social media appropriately, our posts turn out to be inspirational and helpful more than anything else. The only problem is, that scenario doesn’t always hold true — not in our world. That leads me to the subject of travel flexing. I’m not going to beat around the bush, we all know that “flex” is just a cooler term for “show off”. If you disagree with me, then you need to spend more time on social media.
Now, don’t go pointing fingers at who travel flexes or who’s being too judgemental. People are allowed to travel flex just as they are allowed to have their own opinions. But you have to admit that we all need a useful guide in helping us check and balance our flexing. As the old saying goes: Everything in moderation. Too much of anything is bad, and if you end up flexing excessively, that could lead to a whole lot of negativity for you and your followers. That’s why we’re encouraging you to take our unsolicited advice once again. Here are our 10 commandments for responsible travel flexing!
1. Thou shall not write culturally insensitive captions
By all means, flaunt that travel photo with that iconic tourist attraction behind you and your chic fashion statement. No one’s stopping you. That is unless you’re one of those culturally insensitive travellers who just has to make jokes about everything and overlooks the sanctity of a particular tourist spot. It’s rare to have followers who would actually call you out for doing such things, and the situation just becomes more toxic when they resort to talking smack about you behind your back. We all have to be more thoughtful as travellers and do background checks on our destinations just so we have an idea of the dos and don’ts, what’s acceptable and what’s not — social media etiquette included!
2. Thou shall not post “wanderlust” photos when your country is in a state of calamity
I can’t be the only one who has had a Facebook friend who’s exhibited this kind of behaviour. When your countrymen have lost their homes and their loved ones to natural disasters like typhoons and floods, the first thing you should refrain from doing on social media is to spam everyone’s feed with your care-free travel photos. Some perspective, please! There will be a time to blast your wanderlust photos online, and it’s definitely not when the nation is in a state of calamity. Your friends might think you cold and haughty. Sometimes it’s best to get a feel of the prevailing mood both in social media and in reality. In simpler Filipino words, pakiramdaman mo po!
3. Thou shall think twice about participating in “competitive mourning”
When grave events or acts of terrorism unfold in other countries, social media can be a strong support system where people from all over the world can send their love and thoughts to victimised nations. At the same time though, acts of pure intentions are somehow distorted into a brag fest. People take the opportunity just to flex where they’ve travelled to, turning the “mourning” into a competition. Perhaps the most recent example of this is the Notre Dame fire.
We’re not saying that everyone who acts this way is insincere. Of course, it’s still quite plausible that travellers who post their travel photo can simultaneously wish the best for the affected place. We’re just saying that maybe you should think twice about it, especially when it seems like you’re just contributing to the noise with no value add on social media platforms.
4. Thou shall generously tag your location on your beautiful travel photo
Don’t expect your followers to keep liking your beautiful travel photos all the while making them guess where it is, especially when you’re at an underrated destination. When it comes to responsible travel flexing, play fair, be generous, and share knowledge. Don’t be one of those intentionally confusing people who just caption their photos as “secret place” *Ehem. Gerald Anderson. Ehem*.
5. Thou shall not post photos of places that do not allow picture-taking
If you think you look eccentric because you were able to get away with something as basic as this, newsflash — you don’t. You’re actually painting yourself to be a difficult tourist no one would ever want to travel with, precisely because you ignore basic tourist etiquette.
6. Thou shall not flaunt your boarding pass
Who cares if you were able to book a business class ticket? Do not take a snap of that boarding pass and do not post it on social media! This isn’t just about flexing anymore, it’s about your safety. If scammers get a hold of your barcode or even simple details like your booking reference and ticket number, they can easily steal miles, manipulate flight schedules, and cancel your booking. Or worse, reproduce their own boarding pass with your details. It only takes 10 minutes after all.
7. Thou shall not keep reminding people how many times you’ve returned to an expensive destination
Once is enough. Seriously, you don’t need to caption your photos on whether it’s your third, fourth, or fifth time in Europe, America, or heaven knows where. We don’t need to know, and no one’s attacking or interrogating you about it anyway. Relax!
8. Thou shall not flex your photos on someone else’s personal post
I will never understand people who needlessly seek to shine the spotlight on them when someone else has posted about a destination they’ve already been to. Imagine sharing your travels on social media with a single photo, then someone you know takes advantage of it and spams your comment section with his/her own photos of the same place. That behaviour just rubs off as plain rude and attention-seeking. If you feel the need to post your own travel photos, then do so on your own Facebook timeline or Instagram grid. Better yet, share it with TripZilla Philippines! You can tag us on Instagram @tripzillaph or engage with us on Facebook!
9. Thou shall not comment on another’s post just to say you’ve been there first
Jumping off from my previous point, some people attempt “low-key”, over the top travel flexing when they slyly slip into your comment section just to say something to the effect of “I was there before you!”. This annoying statement comes in many versions, and it gets even more cringey when it comes from a Facebook friend or Instagram follower you barely even talk to. Well, hello there attention-grabbing netizens. A word of advice: Stop stealing other people’s moments. You’ve had yours!
10. Thou shall not comment things like “Mas maganda parin sa…” when you are not asked
This should already be a given, but alas, some people still don’t get it. When it comes to responsible travel flexing, a good rule of thumb would be to let travellers revel in the joy of being where they’re currently travelling as they share it on social media. You don’t have to be a wet blanket by telling them that there are better destinations. If you’re more experienced, good for you. But keep your opinions to yourself unless asked, and let others learn from their own travels. Instead of flexing your travels in this negative way, why not use your experience for the better and share useful tips about the place your friend is currently at?
Have you carved each commandment into stone? If you can think of more relevant commandments we need to add, share it with us in the comment section. Meanwhile, go forth and spread the word of responsible travel flexing!