Social media has crept into almost every part of life, and vacations are no exception.
The photographs from trips or vacations that get posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are always of the most beautiful locales and tropical paradises — that photo snapped when Johnny was sick at sea or arriving at the hotel after a long, hot ride on a packed bus will never make it on the Facebook timeline.
People do edit their vacation photos that get posted on social media sites, from selecting the best experiences or the ones that look better to actually doing a little Photoshopping here and there to soften lines and hide imperfections.
"I’m guilty as sin," admitted Becky Yates of Fort Smith. "I’ve laughed about doing it, but it’s wonderful to have some Photoshop abilities, because it really comes in handy to do those changes for friends."
Yates usually goes on vacation at least once a year with her family — her husband and two sons — and she may plan a getaway for just herself.
"The last one … was a two-week Caribbean vacation with about 30 other relatives," explained Yates. "Most of it was wonderful, but there were some times when we were in really close quarters with a lot of people … and stuff happens.
"I actually would never put that on Facebook or anywhere else," she added.
But what she does post on Facebook may not always appear as it actually happened.
"Photoshop is great; you can filter out a few little wrinkles here and there," Yates said, adding that a special pair of miracle glasses that only allows people to see you the way you want them to see you would be a great invention.
She shared the story about her first experience with trip editing, during a high school orchestra program trip to New York City she helped chaperone several years ago.
"We were going all over the place, and we went to NBC studios," Yates said. "We were trying to get us all in this picture so I kind of bent down and I was wearing this fanny pack.
"In the photo, it looks like I’ve got a bubble butt," she continued, adding that she went to work with Photoshop to edit the picture. "I shaved off several inches of that bubble butt, then distributed it.
"People said, ‘You really did it, didn’t you?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ There was no way I was going to let people see that."
She also admits there may have been some Photoshopping involved in a photo of herself taken last year on a weeklong relaxation trip to Virginia Beach, Va.
But Yates hasn’t gone so far as to alter her trip or her food selections at a restaurant just because it would make a better photo opportunity.
"When I see people posting their food on Facebook — oh, come on; that’s a little much for me," she said. "But I have been guilty of posting pics of my drinks."
Refreshing, colorful cocktails are popular postings on social media sites, according to an article on TheStir.com.
Some people, like Susan Dahlem DuBois, actually included the good and the bad from a recent trip to Germany.
"I told about all the good times and the fun we had, but I also told of the ‘frisking’ that I got in the Amsterdam airport," she commented on Facebook. "… I have had screws in my knee and total knee replacement, and the scan machines are so sensitive that it picks up titanium."
Including only the best of a trip or vacation comes as no surprise to Eleazar Eusebio, assistant professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
"We have a social pressure to portray what we’re doing as positive," Eusebio said in the online article. "You don’t want to be ‘that person’ because you’ll call yourself out as an outlier. We don’t want (friends) to say ‘they are a downer because they can’t have a good time.’"
But in the spirit of "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em," TheStir.com shares these ways to make your "craptacular vacation" look like a blast when it really wasn’t:
1. When going somewhere warm, post photos from toward the end of the trip. When you have a tan, everything looks vacationy and fun.
2. Take photos of the sites. If everyone is cranky and the air conditioner in the motel/hotel is broken, no need to upload. That won’t make people jealous. But you know what will? Oceans, mountains, feet buried halfway in the sand. Facebook is nothing but a smoke and mirrors act.
3. Take photos of food. Seriously, do plates of food ever get old on Facebook? Ooh, and cocktails. Alcoholic beverages are huge on Facebook.
4. Take photos at the really nice hotel. (The one you’re not staying at.) Don’t have to caption it: "The hotel down the road." Lying by omission is technically not a lie on Facebook.
5. Take a photo of the passport and upload it right before leaving. Be vague, but be sure to include a caption like "Bon voyage!" Or, if you’re going to Italy, you can write "Ciao!" It’ll whet your friends’ beaks for the visual awesomeness on its way.
6. Have the waiter/waitress take one photo of you and whomever you’re with at dinner. You’ve got time off work and you’re having someone wait on you while you eat. That’s fun for everyone. Even if the AC is broken in your room and your flight was delayed 40 hours, you’ll look back on it one day and smile.
The vacation experts, however, encourage tourists to remember why it is they are getting away.
"We tell our clients to leave their cell phones at home," said Rick Deramus of Deramus Travel, adding that they suggest that vacationers not take anything with them at all that could be a distraction from the rest and relaxation they seek on a vacation.
Deramus explained that Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites have changed the way society now "keeps up with the Joneses."
"It’s enhancing your status by exaggeration," Deramus said, adding that he’s personally never edited vacation photos for posting on social media sites. He feels presenting only the best of your vacation probably started back with scrapbooking, when instead of just placing photos in an album and letting the photos speak for themselves, people started creating neat, put-together pages in scrapbooks that told a story with captions and embellishments.
Deramus said that posting things on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest is like a contest to many people.
"They feel like when they’re on vacation they’ve got to capture something or someone that will go viral," Deramus said. "You sort of lose out on the reason you’re there in the first place — for rest and relaxation."