The Ugly American: 8 Reasons to Stop Taking Pictures on Vacation

Travel Features

1. Eyeballs Have Higher Resolution

Everybody already knows what Italy looks like, but plenty of people don’t know what it’s like to actually be there, including you if all you do is look at your surroundings through a cellphone camera. Take the phone away from your face and you’ll see that the resolution on the Coliseum is amazing if you just use your eyeballs to look at it.

2. Your Kids Will Appreciate It

Kids, if they love their parents, would prefer memories of them vacationing together over footage of themselves vacationing alone taken by parents hidden behind the camera.

3. It Could Kill You

At the Grand Canyon, people commonly die by posing for pictures while pretending to fall off the cliff, which then causes them to actually fall off the cliff. Last year, a woman on vacation in Spain fell to her death while attempting to take the perfect selfie by perching on the edge of the Puente de Triana bridge.

4. Cameras Make People Act Like Idiots

In 2007, a man was mauled to death in a zoo in northeast India when he climbed over the safety barrier to get a really good close-up of the Bengal tigers. He put his camera-holding arm through the bars, which the tigers took for a tasty treat, so they tore it off at the shoulder in front of his wife and children.

5. Every Image of Everything Already Exists

There is seriously no need for you to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night. One, it’s actually considered a fineable offense, and two, just Google it. There are a million images for you to look at that are way better than your suck-ass amateur shot will ever be. Instead, put the camera away and live the moment in 3D.

6. It Pisses Off the Natives

Especially if you use the flash. Or stand in middle of a busy street to photograph something, or constantly ask them to take your photo for you, or go into duck-face selfie mode, or anything else that broadcasts the fact that you’re unappreciative of the true wonder around you. True wonder can’t be photographed. It can only be experienced.

7. It Takes Away your “Situational Awareness”

Studies have shown* that camera-obsessed people are more likely to die horribly during disasters than people who toss their camera and book the hell out of there. Remember that terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 19 people last March? Of all the people who escaped unharmed, it is one-hundred percent without-a-doubt a proven fact, probably, that they did so because they weren’t isolating their attention to a four-inch peephole in their smartphone at the time.

8. It Makes You a Tourist

Don’t be a tourist. Be an explorer. You can’t fully explore someplace without experiencing it, and you can’t fully experience it if you’re hiding behind your smartphone. Later, if you want to share your experience with someone, try describing it yourself. This is called interacting. It’s what people used to do before smartphones and social media sucked all the fun out of being alive.

*Not really, but still.

Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, coming out in June. Follow her on Twitter.

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