Traveling with a friend and now a part of Facebook updates. Help!
July 11, 2014 4:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently backpacking Europe with a good friend of mine. It's been a lot of fun so far, but as a non-Facebook user, I have been feeling uncomfortable and annoyed as he posts updates. How do I keep this from negatively affecting my trip?

I am not on Facebook any longer and part of this trip for me was to temporarily go even more "off the grid". I planned to occasionally email those that I cared about to let them know where I was headed and where I had been. But his posts are effectively broadcasting to everyone where I am every time we hit a new country. Some people who I would have otherwise told personally are learning through Facebook updates.

I won't tell him what he should and shouldn't post, because it's his Facebook account and he has his own ways of communicating with the world. I did politely ask him not to include any pictures of me in any photos, to which he agreed. But I don't like that all my other friends know where I am even though I haven't told them.

So my question is: unless he loses or damages his phone, this likely won't change, so how do I come to terms with it and not get annoyed every time I see him taking a picture for Facebook? It happens enough that it affects the trip negatively for me and it seems very irrational. I keep telling myself that the trip is about my personal experiences and that I should just forget about whether or not anyone knows, but I'm not convinced.
posted by alligatorman to Human Relations (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I get this frustration, I am not active on Facebook (or anywhere else) but the reality is that most people are.

I would do a parallel activity: write in a travel log for example, or research future areas in a guidebook, or organize photos you've taken. In other words: he is documenting his trip in a way that he likes, you should find a way of organizing your trip in a way that speaks to you.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Get over it. It is irrational, and you can't control someone else's behavior. Focus on you, your action, and what you can control, and stop worrying about everything else.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

Have you told him how you feel? I don't think it is irrational to want to be off the grid for awhile. Maybe he'd be OK with joining you on detaching for awhile too.

If he really wants to stay in touch with everyone you both know throughout the trip, just remind yourself that you don't have to deal with anyone yourself until you choose to do so. Also, that whatever people are learning electronically, you are far, far away from them in reality.
posted by bearwife at 4:23 PM on July 11, 2014

Well, like any irrational impulse, it's fine to have them, but that doesn't mean you have to like them or believe them. It'd probably help to figure out what annoys you about it. Does it annoy you because to you, he isn't enjoying the trip in the way that you think it should be enjoyed? Does it annoy you because he's beating you to the punch about updates?

Either way, if/when you figure out, think to yourself how ridiculous the root cause (He's enjoying the trip THE WRONG WAY! People aren't going to like me because they get their info from him now!)

It's also a good chance to practice mindfulness and not let these thoughts get the best of you.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:25 PM on July 11, 2014 [13 favorites]

Maybe you can compromise in advance and have some places he can broadcast and other places you agree to keep to yourselves?
posted by bleep at 4:25 PM on July 11, 2014

People used to do this via postcards, and even blurbs in the local paper. "Mrs Thomas Greenfield of Ompah is staying with the Burnsides until 3 July." "Mr Reginald Bobbsey of White Lake will be visiting Scotch Corners next month." This was a for-real regular feature of old small-town news. Even if you hadn't announced your itinerary to people directly, anybody interested in what you are doing probably would have heard about it eventually.

The good news is that most people probably don't care and won't remember. I see vacation whatnot on FB all the time, and unless the person posting is a close friend, they might as well be checking in at a restaurant and uploading a sandwich snapshot. Great, so-n-so's having fun, looks like good times; hey, there's an essay I'd like to read, cool, and moments later I couldn't really tell you who's in another time zone and who had the sandwich.

I mean, it sounds like a lot of your anxiety here is focused on a perceived loss of privacy, and I just want to point out that maybe super-private travelling is not a realistic expectation under normal circumstances, and also that not as many people as you think are thinking about you. You can go off-grid; regular life goes on, it's not going to change your trip. You're not a hermit; you're a person with friends -- there's nothing you can do to not have a bit of overlap with the rest of the world at all times.
posted by kmennie at 4:27 PM on July 11, 2014 [33 favorites]

Perhaps ask him if he could delay his postings by a day or two?
posted by 724A at 4:29 PM on July 11, 2014

you said no pictures of you but is he explicitly mentioning you in the posts? if not, like if he just says "here we are in [place]" rather than "alligatorman and i" then people may not register that it's you on the trip with him, or they may forget even if they already know...
posted by neat graffitist at 4:33 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you feel disappointed because he robbed you of the chance to share your experiences with your friends by posting them on Facebook first.

Maybe take this as an opportunity to try and share your experiences in a different way? Find a different souvenir for each of your closest friends, write postcards or letters, save train tickets/currency/etc to make a collage to share when you get back, etc.
posted by sevenofspades at 4:36 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rest easy. Nobody cares about other peoples' vacation photos on Facebook. If they even see them, they aren't thinking about you like all "hey, the leaning tower of Pisa! I wonder how alligatormom is enjoying that!". At most, they're like "ugh I wish I was on vacation"; but more likely they're just thinking "stop cluttering my feed with pictures/ hey that mean kid from high school got satisfyingly fat/ it's time to picture-stalk my ex now."
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:43 PM on July 11, 2014 [17 favorites]

But I don't like that all my other friends know where I am even though I haven't told them.

It might help to unpack why you don't want your friends to know where you are. Of course, if it's a safety issue, you have every right to tell your traveling partner to stop giving up this information.
posted by ftm at 4:45 PM on July 11, 2014

I can't tell if your friend is posting about you (as in alligatorman and I did this and that) or if people merely know that you're with him. If it is the former, I would ask him not to include you in his posts just like you asked him not to post pictures of you. That's a reasonable request. It would bother me immensely if someone was posting info about me without my consent.

If it's that people know you're traveling together but he's posting updates about himself, well then you have to let it go and focus on your own good time. Journaling, as mentioned above, is a good way to capture your thoughts.
posted by shoesietart at 4:47 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Unless you are a celebrity, get over it. You are not as important as you think you are. No one will remember his posts past next week. No one is really talking about you and your trip and if they are, they are your parents and that is okay. You realize that you are being irrational and that is healthy. I do understand that it may feel like a buzz kill to have him post your exciting news before you tell someone. Your two options would be to ask him to delay posts of certain events or ask those special people to not read his facebook or to pretend that they are not reading his facebook. Enjoy your trip!
posted by myselfasme at 5:06 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

For several years I travelled a lot, frequently solo, around the world, and I live far from most family and friends anyway. Posting my trip updates to FB periodically was understood to family and close friends to be my indirect "I'm not dead or sold into any sex rings" assurance. (And I did get "are you okay?" messages when I occasionally didn't do this) While you feel this violates your privacy, your friend may be in the habit of doing this for his or her safety. Consider balancing your needs with theirs. Even if some of it is attention whorish (and who among us on FB has not attention whored) it's not an usual or necessarily wrong thing to do in many circumstances.
posted by olinerd at 5:37 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

The interesting part for your friends will not be the mere fact that you visited a place, but what you thought of it, what quirks you noticed, that one really gorgeous photo of an unexpected tiny house that you took, the interesting little moments you had while haggling with a merchant or trying out your local phrases on the bus or whatever. Those kinds of more-specific observations and stories are what make it fun to hear about someone else's trip, and those will be unique to you. They won't be ruined by your friend's updates. If anything, think of your friend's updates as forcing you to up your game and really keep your eyes peeled for good, distinctive details.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:14 PM on July 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

I would assume that nobody knows you're with this friend? In that case, nobody knows where you are. People know where he is. Since you kept it secret and kept it safe by not telling anyone where you were going or who you were going with, for all they know, these posts have fuck all to do with you.

If you went ahead and told all your friends you were going to Barcelona with Steve in July, and are sending periodic email updates, and will have vacation photos to show friends upon your return, your trip is effectively no more secret than it would be if you were posting to facebook constantly.
posted by Sara C. at 6:14 PM on July 11, 2014

You wanted to go on an off-the-grid travel retreat. Your friend wanted to go on a global-citizen-always-connected adventure. You should have figured this out before you left. The two of you had two very different ideas about the trip. At this point there isn't much you can do. You can suck it up, or you can go your own way and travel solo.

Next time you decide to go on an international trip with someone, try to get your specs lined up in advance to make sure you're really talking about the same trip.
posted by alms at 7:38 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

You're not being "irrational". Just because your friend likes to live his life publically doesn't mean you should have to. Learning about a friend's travels (or anything) through Facebook is one of the most impersonal ways to be "connected" to that person. It makes sense that you don't want to be related to your friends in that way, and that you feel this is bothering you. And you are related to your friends and people you care about even if you're not present with them.

Some people who I would have otherwise told personally are learning through Facebook updates.

But I don't like that all my other friends know where I am even though I haven't told them.

It seems you have clear reasons for being bothered by this. You should tell your friend so that maybe he can consider this beyond just leaving your photos off Facebook. You don't have to feel bad about asking. His response of posting everything publically for the whole world to see may be the norm these days, but that does not at all mean that your feelings about it are "irrational". In fact, it's probably quite the opposite.
posted by Blitz at 8:05 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

What is is that actually bugs you about other people knowing where you? Is there some reason why your friends knowing where you are would be a problem? I ask this in genuine interest because I use facebook and my wife has made similar complaints about my usage in the past. While I respect her wishes, she has never really been able to explain what it is that annoys her about this. My impression is that she believes that facebook posts are visible to the entire world, rather than a select group of friends who we would have no problem telling about our location if we were to speak to them in person.

Can you ask your friend to ensure they limit their posts to a smaller, more acceptable group of people?

As an aside, since my wife is not on facebook (and we travel a lot), I find that her friends befriend me purely so that they can have a point of contact with her.
posted by teselecta at 11:46 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to chime in I don't think you're 'irrational' in the slightest. I'm old school - I stay away from faceboast and always have. Personally I think it invites people to intrude and display what is to me a staggering sense of entitlement. Someone even tried to do this to me at a meditation group (as usual without my consent) the other day at a Buddhist centre.. unfuckingbelievable. Try and share you're concern.. though they too may think you're being 'irrational' because you seek to live differently and value your privacy.

Failing that.. I'd hope your friends would still care about your perspectives and experiences of it all when you return.
posted by tanktop at 1:16 AM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

So do you not care what other people think of you, or do you? It seems like you're more interested in people thinking that you don't care about them, that actually not caring about them.
posted by empath at 3:48 AM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm with you. When I go to a place, I want to BE there, not be caught up in whatever's happening back home. Is your friend's (cough) web addiction otherwise interfering with your travel? Is he delaying getting organised in the morning because he has to finish posting something?

The world is full of travelling friends who decided to split up and go solo when their styles didn't mesh. You can meet up at a later date.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:03 AM on July 12, 2014

I'm unsure what the "problem" is, here.

Are you embarrassed by your association with someone who is sharing the mundane aspects of your trip? I mean, this is a rather basic human thing to do; there's a reason people of a certain age range blanch when they hear the sound of a slide projector.

Is it that you don't like the way your friend is framing your trip? Is he making it about clubs and dumb tourist stuff, when it's really about pondering the sweep of history? More specifically, are there aspects of your trip that you literally don't want broadcast, because they show you in an unflattering light? As in, you don't look forward to explaining that visit to the Red Light District to your SO, upon return? Are you illicitly burning sick days to take this trip?

I'm picking at this because it seems like this is about who is controlling the vacation, not about how the vacation is being/will be shared. He wants to share it now (in an unoriginal and potentially irritating fashion), and you want to share it later (in an unoriginal and potentially irritating fashion); you both want to share it, but your preferred method of sharing seems to depend on him being denied his. (I would argue that the reverse is not true. People are not going to receive your thoughtfully composed essays next month and think, "Meh, I already remember all this from that one facebook feed three weeks ago." But his up-to-the-second pigeon updates will indeed be moot if he waits for your go-ahead.) You both want to share your experiences, and the recipients will/won't appreciate both methods of transmission. It's not zero-sum.

Alternately, this could be about how the vacation "should" be enjoyed. Maybe you feel that your friend's method of sharing is taking him out of the experience, which he should be having with you. (Extrapolating: In the same way that you are experiencing it, or else it's invalid.) Well, that's just how he wants to experience it; the best you can hope for is that he surfaces from his phone occasionally.

In any case, you seem to grasp that your concerns are perhaps overblown, and that outside opinions are required. Why else would you get back "on the grid," and post your question to a social media platform (of sorts)? Your friend has agreed to stop including you in his updates (visually, anyway), and it shouldn't be too hard for him to omit other references to your presence, if he hasn't already. What's done is done. So let him enjoy/share the trip his way, while you enjoy/share it in yours.

It's been a lot of fun so far

That's great! Hint hint.

(For the record, here's my hybrid approach: Like you, I want to have my trip while I'm having my trip, not fuss with social media stuff. I wait until a trip is over, then post selected pics/commentary to a dedicated fb album. This way, the sharing of my (mundane, unoriginal and potentially irritating) experience is -- other than an album update alert in the newsfeed -- totally optional for those friends who opt in.)
posted by credible hulk at 7:56 AM on July 12, 2014

Some people who I would have otherwise told personally are learning through Facebook updates

This makes it sound like you're annoyed that he's beating you to the story. But surely your friends will appreciate hearing about your travels from you, face-to-face (if that's your plan), even if they already have a rough idea of your itinerary?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2014

I totally get where you're coming from. I did a backpacking thing and wanted to go off the grid too, but my friend was taking tons of photos and posting them.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more photos myself, because they're mostly all of her!

But, I don't think there's anything wrong with your desire. In fact, I think it's admirable to want to experience something purely, and for yourself, and not wanting to brag about your experiences. You want to experience your travels sincerely and authentically and live in the moment without clouding the experience with narcissism. You probably will come out of it with a more humble perspective than your friend... and in my opinion learning humility is one of the most important lessons of travel.

Is there any way you can break off from him at times to be truly in solitude? Maybe take a detour by yourself or with some other travelers who have a similar experience in mind?
posted by winterportage at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2014

But the OP isn't bragging or being narcissistic. One might think the OP's traveling companion is being crass by posting to Facebook, but the OP isn't the one doing that. Even by those standards, the OP is blameless.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:25 PM on July 12, 2014

Thanks for the responses everyone. I feel better about it having read all the answers.

I will be traveling solo for a few weeks after he leaves and I will get to enjoy some time alone, so I will appreciate the company while I have it.
posted by alligatorman at 9:13 AM on July 15, 2014

« Older Where should I live in SF?   |   Creative Outlet for Intellectual Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.