The Rise of the Traveling Narcissist

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Hello. My name is Georg and I am a traveling narcissist.
It truly is hard to admit and honestly, embarrassing. Narcissism is defined as the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. Guilty.
I came to realize my affliction as I was sitting watching my Twitter and Instagram notifications pour in after a recent series of photo postings. With each notification came a sense of relief, joy and fulfillment. This is so fucking stupid and goes against everything that I stand for. Yet there I was, admiring the accolades and ego boosting validation of mostly complete strangers on the internet.
So. Fucking. Stupid.
I decided to come clean and write about this embarrassing affliction as I assume a vast majority of travel minded social media users share a similar shame. We travel to gain enriching experiences. To see & feel the reality of the world in all of it’s complexity, the beauty and the struggles, the people, the animals and the landscapes.  We seek to form lasting experiences and memories so that when our short time on earth comes to an end, we may say that we truly lived life to the fullest. So why the hell are we so concerned with showing off our travels to others? For some, there may be monetary motivations as in the case of paid travel bloggers, sponsorships or marketing promotion. Fair enough. However the promotion of travel and experiences seems to have led to the development of a culture of ‘look at me’ travelers. Case study: The High on Life (Sundayfundayzs) crew. If you are unfamiliar, this is a collection of young(ish) males who travel around doing crazy shit and produce videos of themselves. They have a huge & loyal following of impressionable young kids. The High on Life crew made news last year for a stunt they pulled in Yellowstone National Park where they purposely & illegally veered off the established path onto the sensitive bacterial mats of the hot springs in an attempt, and in their own words, “to get the perfect shot”. Why were they after the perfect shot? Because they make a living showing off. Seriously. Their entire business model centers around their ability to demonstrate how ‘awesome’ they and their travels are and in return obtain sponsorships. They are professional traveling narcissists.  As a result, their impressionable followers seek to emulate and born is a systemic culture of traveling for the sake of demonstrating how awesome your life is. Should it bother me? Probably not if I am to be true to my intentions but for some reason it does bother me. Jealousy? (I just looked at my phone to see how many likes I was up to)

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The Internet’s response to the High on Life’s self-centered antics

So. Fucking. Stupid.
Many suggest that the need to show off is routed in our own insecurities. After all, if we were truly content with our lives, the experience alone would be enough. Perhaps this is true for my own personal experience. I grew up as the poor kid in a relatively affluent community. I didn’t set foot on an airplane until I was in college and collected cans and bottles on the side of the road to save up for school trips. This will set one up for some later in life insecurities. Yet here I am, an accomplished world traveler, successful professional, healthy, well-adjusted and living by all measures, one truly incredible life that I am grateful for. Yet I still look at my phone to see how many likes I receive.
So. Fucking. Stupid.
Now I will admit, I have been profoundly inspired by others on social media. The late Harry Devert (RIP) was one such person who regularly inspired me to get off the couch and do something enriching. Of course, I have no idea if Harry found fulfillment in the sharing of his adventures but a part of me really wants to believe that he simply shared his stories and photos for the sake of inspiring others, to make them smile and act on their dreams without expectation for monetary return or superficial validation. This is admirable.This is what I want and aspire to be.

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An inspiring photo from Harry Devert’s Instagram 

Do you think you could take a trip and not post about it on social media?  Do you simply enjoy your experiences in life without the innate desire for validation through acknowledgment? Do you share with the pure intent of inspiring others? If so, I envy and truly look up to you.

I am interested in your thoughts. Like & Comment below!
(shit there I go again, setting myself up for  validation through your interactions. I have some work to do)

 

 

 

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117 thoughts on “The Rise of the Traveling Narcissist

  1. Hmm. Totally hear you on this one but having encountered true narcissism in all its destructive glory, I can pretty much confirm that if you’re able to acknowledge any narcissistic traits, you’re not a true narcissist and there’s no harm whatsoever in seeking approval. We all need it sometimes 🙂

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  2. We all want to know that what we’re doing MEANS something and these days we get a lot of that approval through social media. It’s also how we stay connected. Another thing: I think it’s extremely important that we share our experiences with others. Who wouldn’t love to learn how to become a paid traveler!? Showing that you’re successful at it proves that others can could be successful at it too. Why not be apart of a community that encourages us to do so. What better way to experience life than to actually EXPERIENCE it!? I’ve got a few ideas on how to do it, but being you’re actually doing it, I’d love to know if you have advice for us who aspire to what you’re doing. I think I’ve found an affordable way for just about anyone who would want to travel regularly, but always wanting to learn more about it. We need your wisdom!

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    1. You raise some excellent points and to be honest, when i wrote this, it was more of a personal self-reflective rant. It is truly refreshing to read other’s comments in terms of their expressing benefit from the sharing of others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as I move forward in this journey I will be sure to keep all of this in mind as a motivator for helping others 🙂

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  3. I think it’s healthy to look at yourself and evaluate your own motives. We decided to write a travel blog purely to keep family and friends updated on our travels. It was never our intent to gather new followers, but when strangers unexpectedly began to follow us or give us comments, there’s certainly a cheap thrill of validation.

    We just finished a week of travel where we took virtually no pictures, and I’m thinking about not blogging it, because I don’t have any pictures. Is that because it’s harder to explain without pictures, or because I like it when people compliment my pictures. Am I really blogging for the benefit of the reader, or am I looking for validation and praise? Probably both.

    A little narcissism is probably OK, as long as you keep your boots on the boardwalk.

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    1. Refreshing to read and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really think a little bit of narcissism will always be present but if we approach our sharing with a bit of self-awareness and make a conscious effort to share in a way that provides benefit to others, all will be well. Thanks again, truly appreciate your feedback and I look forward to reading about your adventures 🙂

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    1. Ok, I won’t 🙂 To be honest,, since I wrote this, the outpouring of support with people sharing their thoughts means so much to me. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts.

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  4. Such an honest nitty gritty post! I have found some of this “traveling narcissism” in myself. As humans we want social acknowledgement, which I think isn’t necessarily bad in moderation. I have also found in the past that I was constantly looking at fb and instagram to see if others liked photos and I eventually got fed up with this feeling that the photos weren’t about sharing and were more about posturing. I have since then deleted my social media accounts to try and live a simpler life. And to a large degree life is more simple. I did keep my blog! Because as your followers said it is special to share experience and have some rewards in life. 🙂

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    1. Oh my, you went full cold turkey and deleted your other social media accounts!? My hero!!! 🙂 I think like you said, moderation is key. Truly grateful for you taking the time to share your thoughts.

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  5. I write to share thoughts, experiences, and possibly useful tips now and then, and I am grateful when readers let me know that they got my message. I don’t think this is narcissism. Your other word, validation, works better for me. So thanks for the validation of your visiting and deciding to follow my blog!

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  6. You know, this thought comes to me every now and then. Specially when you get little likes and comments but you know what? some trips are really enjoyable, you don’t get to take photos and share it on social media but you’re still contented and happy. Or I just don’t care at all? HAHA.

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  7. I have found this very same phenomenon with new parents and their desire to post photos and write blogs of how beautiful and fulfilling becoming a parent is. Sometimes I wish people posted something other than perfect-family photos as they serve only to boost the infinite parenting-ego and ostracise those who are honest enough to say actually, this is really really tough and it not all roses and smiles. Same thing with your interesting post about travelling; we are constantly living our lives for others to view and not for ourselves to truly self-develop and become more caring, more wholesome members of the world-stage.

    Thank you for giving me something to think about and also for re-igniting my core desire to be more adventurous.

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  8. A weird series of emotions, isn’t it? I am right there with you, and so are many others. I am not sure if I could NOT post any photos of a trip (on FB), especially if it’s to a place not heavily traveled. I was excited to post my pictures from Colombia, because I sincerely wanted to put that country on people’s radars. The great thing is that you are aware of these feelings, so you probably aren’t as bad you think!

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  9. Really liked this post 🙂 I think sharing for the sake of inspiring and interacting with similar people is a good way to use social media and blogging. It’s even better if you can make some money IMO. Have a great day 😉

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  10. Great post Geo. You really hit the nail on the head with social validation. I was recently away on holiday and I couldn’t help but notice everyone on their smartphones taking selfies instead of actually enjoying the experience of being in a foreign country. Every meal they had was a potential like, every sunset was a potential ‘follow’.

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  11. I don’t think it’s narcissistic to share something you enjoy so that other people can enjoy it too. Looking for validation (in moderation) and getting it tells us that we’re on the right track; as in other people are sharing in your joy. It’s a good thing. There are lots of places that I’ll never see for myself. But I get to see them through other people’s descriptions and photos. Keep sharing the joy!

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  12. This is one of the most pressing questions when I write about my travel. How much of ‘I’ am I including. How much is too much and how to strike a balance. I’m still struggling with that question. Hence I really relate to your post.

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