Russell McCutcheon’s post yesterday made me think of a recent trip I took to New York City with two friends, and Culture on the Edge’s members, Monica Miller and Leslie Dorrough Smith, before a workshop on Code Switching hosted by Monica Miller at Lehigh University. The reason that I was reminded of this trip is because the first night, as we were driving back to our hotel, we came across a view of Manhattan by night which was exactly as you see it in movies and postcards. Of course we decided to stop and enjoy the view, but simply watching Manhattan by night seemed not enough—maybe because, as I said, that’s a view you see in movies and it seemed somehow surreal that I was there, as if I was living someone else’s dream; so we immediately started taking pictures of that beautiful scene anticipating posting on FB for friends and family to see it too.
I never really pondered about why, when I’m traveling—something you might have experienced too—and when you find yourself at the place where you have imagined being—such as me standing in New Jersey, right at the banks of Hudson River looking out over Manhattan—I seem to have a spontaneous urge to take a picture, to secure that “Yes, I was here, too” reminder for my future self to see; and, of course, now with social media such as Facebook and the like, the experience of being at a place is made even more real, in a way, just by the fact that I can immediately share it, anticipating comments. I remember, before leaving for New York, and talking with Vasiliki Platioti, a good friend of mine in Greece, who told me: “Make sure you take a lot of pictures so that I feel I’m there, too.”
So, indeed, as McCutcheon writes: “the object of experience, the ‘it,’ is socially constituted and so, without the social (i.e., in this case, social media), there’s no experience to be had.”