I disabled Instagram comments on my holiday snaps … cue outrage

I travelled to Europe and landed in trouble. But it wasn’t with Interpol or customs.

For the first time while travelling, I disabled the “comments” feature on my Instagram account.

Why do you have to bring all of your followers along on a holiday?Credit:Stocksy

If my intention was to cut off all communication while falling in love with a tall, dark and handsome long black (coffee) in Rome, I didn’t succeed. In fact, the result was quite the opposite.

I was faced with the wrath of my followers who felt entitled to be fellow travellers on their own virtual holiday.

I received messages to ask why I blocked comments (thank God for the spaghetti, pizza and icecream emojis because I replied with those).

The saying goes: “If it didn’t happen on Instagram, it didn’t happen.” It did happen but without giving followers the validation they need with emojis.

It just happened without my followers' not-so-profound observations. Previous trips have elicited rather inane and repetitive comments such as: “Are you in Europe?” “Are you in Rome?” “I am so jealous.” “You are so lucky.” “When are you coming back?” “How long are you away for?”

This time, I chose to travel without the verbiage as my baggage.

The interest is understandable: when one is cavorting fancy free during the European summer, back home everyone has bunked down for the Australian winter.

The blue-sky Instagram photos provide a moment’s respite from onesie life with leg warmers. But I am "sorry not sorry" for depriving my followers of imagining bikini life for a fleeting moment.

Banning comments was not my only sin, apparently. I could be the first person on a holiday who did not post one photo of myself: not one selfie at the Trevi Fountain, not one portrait of me strolling along wistfully in a flowing summer frock and tilting my head back towards the camera.

Yes, everything is okay. I’m just living life like we used to before we documented every moment.

The latter scene requires a friend or partner to play photographer but, when you’re strolling on your own, handing your iPhone to a stranger could mean they run off with it.

I am not a social media influencer, so I don’t travel with a wingman who’s on photographer duty to capture my oh-so-natural laugh while gazing down at my torn jeans.

My self-exclusion of self portraits was liberating because, if I was having a bad hair day in the European humidity, I didn’t have to fret about how my appearance would be judged and calculated by the number of likes.

And going comment-free was equally emancipating because the addictive nature of social media – the purported cause of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), repetitive strain injuries and “iPad neck” – was switched off at the stroke of a button.

When travelling, I find comments distracting and don’t wish to count likes as an indicator of my success as a photographer with a filter. As the custodian of dozens of iPhone apps to enhance reality, I didn’t use them once.

While travelling in another timezone and climate, I would rather be mesmerised by the sights than moderate comments and provide return validation to followers that their comments are as important as my photos.

I don't want to get palpitations by trying to capture my flowing hair, summer frock, handbag and shoes with cookie-cutter predictability. I want to stare at the Colosseum for its ancient beauty and not be obsessed about how to fit the arches into the square.

Social media has become more than a place to document your life, it is a proxy heartbeat to decipher if someone is dead or alive. A prolonged period of not posting new content leads to followers asking if something is wrong.

"You haven’t been on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for a while. Is everything okay?”

Yes, everything is okay. I’m just living life like we used to before we documented every moment.

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