I find myself drawn to articles and research about how people interact and react to their worlds. This is part of the reason I went into the counseling profession. I’ve always wanted to know why people do what they do and how knowledge of these processes can help make positive change. I recently came across two articles that piqued my interest. One was written about research on why Facebook users reported being more frequently depressed and you can find it here. The research showed that 30% of respondents reported being envious of their “friends” and what may seem like perfect lives. The second article was an opinion piece about putting up a perfect life on social networks by only revealing partial truths and keeping things that might reflect negatively off of the sites.
These articles made me think about my own interactions on social networks. First, I examined my reactions to things I read and see on social networks. Do I get envious or feel depressed? I came to the conclusion upon self-reflection that when I encounter amazing travel stories or breathtaking pictures instead of getting envious, I get inspired. Those photos usually spur me into action; I start researching the area and adding to my list of places to try and visit one day.
Next, I looked at how I portray my own trips on social networks. Do I only tell partial truths or hide negative things from my audience. While I don’t include every negative thing my posts do seem to have some of the negative stuff included. I think it’s important to include those things, not just based on the articles I read, but also because it gives other people the chance to learn from the negatives. When I read other blogs that include negatives and problems I actually enjoy learning from it. What I find is that while we’re in the moment it can seem horrible, but usually when we look back on that moment later, it’s not as bad as we thought; sometimes it’s even funny to remember.
So in the spirit of showing the imperfect aspect of travel, I’m sharing what I’ve dubbed the “Blasket Island Fiasco.” It was the pinnacle of our trip to Ireland for me, the one activity that I had planned as long as the trip itself. I purchased tickets for a boat tour along the western coast of Ireland and out to the Blasket Islands. On the tour we were going to get an opportunity to walk around Great Blasket Island, see dolphins, puffins, whales, and get spectacular view of Slea Head and Cathedral Rocks of Inis Na Bro.
On the day of the tour I arrived in the town where the boat would be launched with a few minutes to spare before the time of departure. We entered the town and I don’t see anything that resembled a dock or signs pointed toward a dock. I did a quick loop around the bay and still nothing. Frustrated, I park and attempted to use the payphone to call the captain to get help. Well, this was my first attempt at using a foreign payphone and I couldn’t figure it out. So I ran back to the car and drove off in search of someone to ask for directions. We stopped at a hotel to ask the owner for help. The owner was able to point us in the direction we needed. We headed off in the direction the owner pointed us in, but I missed the turnoff because it was quite possibly the smallest road I’d ever seen. I quickly turned around (which wasn’t easy on the small Irish road) and made the turn on to the right road. We were now 15 minutes late, with no way to contact the captain. Finally we reached our destination just in time to see… the boat leave the harbor.
The frustration level was now through the roof. I was tired, hungry, stressed, and disappointed. I sat on the dock in utter disgust, feeling sick. Our plans were down the drain, money wasted, and dreams dashed. What do we do now?
We needed time to regroup. We stopped at a café nearby to sip some tea to try and lift our spirits. While we sat in the café we poured over the guidebook, nibbled on sandwiches, and discussed whether we wanted to drive around the peninsula or put Dingle in our rearview and head for Killarney. At the end of our meal it was decided that we would push on and explore the peninsula. With Rick Steve’s Guide to Ireland to lead us, surprisingly, we were able to have a wonderful experience and to see many of our most memorable sights; we even managed to see the Blasket Islands, from afar.
Looking back at this, reminded me of the frustration and disappointment at the time. But, I also looked at the amazing pictures we took that day of different sights and reminded myself that if we had made the boat, we probably would not have had those experiences. Though the majority of my posts are positive, I don’t want to make it seem that things are perfect for us when we travel; we get sick, miss transfers, and have flight delays. That’s all part of the experience of traveling. The importance of these experiences, as with anything in life, is to learn and grow from them.