This Holiday Season, It’s Time for ‘Selfito Ergo Sum’
Following Descartes\' footsteps, many youths today love to travel the world. The difference is that they are now hunting for selfies.
Four centuries ago, philosopher Rene Descartes traveled to many countries in an existential journey to find true inspiration. Following his footsteps, many youths today love to travel the world. The difference is that they are now hunting for selfies.
Thus, selfito ergo sum. This may be the perfect term to describe how millennials define existentialism in today’s age. The meaning, more or less, is “I take photos and I exist on social media, therefore I am.”
Of course, it is a pun on the philosophy cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) that Descartes famously wrote in the 16th century. It is this newfound philosophy that drives millennials to travel all over the world, especially in holiday seasons such as this week.
Advertising professional Yuwi Anjaya, 32, for instance, is addicted to traveling. Having just returned from a vacation on a deserted island in Phuket, Thailand, recently, she is already planning to fly to Iceland on the border of the Arctic Circle.
Like many millennials, she wished to enjoy the rare experience of the journey that she has scheduled for January 2018. “I wish to hunt for the aurora and see the Blue Lagoon,” said Yuwi, who will go with her husband, child, sibling and other family members to Iceland.
Winter in January is the perfect time to hunt for sights of the aurora borealis.
Winter in January is the perfect time to hunt for sights of the aurora borealis, the beautiful greenish northern lights resulting from the interaction of solar particles with the earth’s invisible magnetic field. Witnessing a rare phenomenon such as the aurora borealis will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Yuwi and her family. She wished to immortalize the unique moments in photographs.
However, she does not wish to take mediocre pictures of the rare moments. Therefore, she plans to hire a professional photographer for the trip. “My sibling wants to try a professional photography service as well,” she said.
She said she used the services of professional photographer during her trip to Phuket. At that time, she obtained the service through Frame a Trip, a Jakarta-based photography service bureau networked with hundreds of professional photographers in more than 130 global tourist sites.
The service has been popularized by young celebrities, including Chelsea Islan, Andien Asyiah, Luna Maya and Dian Sastrowardoyo, who was a founder of one of these photography startup companies.
“[It’s much better] than having traveled far abroad and losing precious photographic moments. If we take selfies or ask for help from other tourists, the pictures may not be as good as we hoped, or the resolution may be too low,” Yuwi said about the reason why she often used professional photography services on holiday trips.
Social media presence was the biggest reason behind the company’s popularity among its clients.
Frame A Trip represents a new era, namely one where selfies are no longer enough to capture the needs of millennials and their “existence” on social media. The final product of Frame a Trip is not the photographs themselves, but rather the number of “likes” on social media sites such as Instagram or Facebook.
These hired photographers are tasked with making as many amazing photographs as possible for clients. Just like models, Tania and other Frame a Trip clients also receive suggestions on good poses and styling choices for the photographs.
As a result, Yuwi’s latest holiday photographs in her Instagram account has been flooded by praise. “I can get only up to 50 likes on my selfies. Meanwhile, with professional photographs, I can get up to 100 or 200 likes. I am so happy when people like my photos,” Yuwi said.
Frame a Trip co-founder Endra Marsudi said that social media presence was the biggest reason behind the company’s popularity among its clients. “With good photos, you can increase your number of followers,” Endra said.
Jakarta-based travel bureau owner Tania Budidjaja, 25, who also loves traveling, said that she would also use a professional photography service for her trip to Japan in early 2018. She will leave behind the selfie stick that she has relied upon for years.
Through the application, travelers can order local photographers’ services anywhere they like.
She said she wished to pose like a model at Tokyo’s famed Shibuya and Shinjuku districts for her Instagram account. Tania said that she also planned to use a professional photographer to take pictures during her long holiday trip.
“Three years ago, I still brought a selfie stick or my travel photos. The results are not good, and it is dangerous if I hit people in the head with it,” she said.
She said she obtained the service through SweetEscape. The photography startup service has a business model similar to Frame a Trip. The difference is that SweetEscape is accessible through smartphones and not just through a website. The service is available in 320 cities all over the world.
In principle, SweetEscape operates much like an online ride-hailing service. Through the application, travelers can order local photographers’ services anywhere they like. “The photos will arrive through the clients’ smartphone app within three days,” said SweetEscape head of marketing Nikita Hadi.
Due to its multinational scope, SweetEscape calculates its fee in US dollars. For local destinations such as Bogor or Bandung, the fee is US$300. Meanwhile, for European destination, the fee is $400. These fees provide a two-hour service.
Frame a Trip’s fees start from Rp 3 million (US$222) for Asian destinations. The two photography bureaus said that they were flooded with five times the usual number of orders during year-end holiday season.
“Every generation needs a space to express themselves and be recognized. If they feel they cannot get this, they will feel that something is missing in their lives,” cultural observer Idi Subandy said about the phenomenon.