Juliet Kinsman: Technology makes the world smaller, but isn't that a shame?

Something to Declare

"Social" media. No doubt countless words have been expended on the irony of its name. All those platforms connecting us, yet they also fill our hotel lounges with anti-social twits.

Don't get me wrong, my Instagram and Twitter habit is an addiction – and I'm the first to try to get others hooked. I see my obsession as acceptable because I love sharing the tip-offs on great places, people and products that I discover with those who are genuinely curious. But when it comes to hotel etiquette, I'm pretty sure we all need to talk.

I went to Malaysia recently with a few other journalists. On our first evening, having travelled to the other side of the world, we were finally ensconced in a jungle retreat overlooking the sea. And because of Wi-Fi and smart phones, the first-time long-hauler in our group spent the evening tapping away at instant messages from her boyfriend and her mum back home. As the stars twinkled, palm fronds swayed and waves rolled on to the sand, our charming hosts went around the table introducing themselves. But one among our party was so engrossed in the Facebook feed on her lap that she blanked these kind providers of hospitality and food.

I'm guilty of stopping to capture an exotic scene and then often squandering time attempting to log on to temperamental internet connections when I could be switching off and soaking up new sights, sounds and smells. But I sincerely hope I still know how to interact with real people. It's not unusual, even in remote resorts, to see whole tables of people ignoring each other, faces lit up by the glow of their handheld device. Before Christmas, a Taiwanese tourist fell into Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne because she was too busy checking Facebook on her smartphone to notice that the pier she was walking along had run out.

It's a poignant reminder that the point of overseas escapades is to leave home at home. Don't just document it digitally – actually participate and enter into the true spirit of travel. Apps should be an enhancement, not a raison d'être.

Many of us succumb to "smoasting", or social media boasting; I kid myself that the picture of an off-the-wall cocktail in a glamorous lobby, or me hanging from a zip-line in the Caribbean, is providing a service to travellers. But is it really?

Tell you what, though, it doesn't half help when I've forgotten where it was that had that awesome chandelier made from bike parts (The Drake Hotel, Toronto), or which hotel has the best croissants in the West Country (The Chapel, Somerset). Many hotels embrace social media: the design of 1888 Hotel in Sydney was planned to maximise Instagrammability, while Meliá hotels have specialist concierges standing by on Twitter.

However, when it comes to us tourists, we need to know when to switch off. When I looked at that journalist's social media channels it seemed, from all the selfies and sharing of what we saw, that she had had the most thrilling adventure. Truth is, she mostly spent it solo, staring at an electronic device.

Why, when you're in a romantic paradise like Malaysia, would you only have eyes for a phone?

Juliet Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of 'Mr & Mrs Smith' (mrandmrssmith.com)

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor