ABSTRACT

Introduction In this chapter, I ask how tourism and technology intersect in hospitality encounters such as the ones described above. Hospitality, like the concepts of landscape and the tourist gaze that I discussed in the previous two chapters, is a key paradigm through which tourism researchers have sought to understand the way tourists relate to people and places while on the move. So far, I have argued that mobile technologies and online social media have reshaped these paradigms, requiring us to pay attention to the way tourists connect to, and disconnect from, the blended geographies of urban landscapes or dispersed social networks of friends and family members. Here, I ask how online social networking technologies enable new configurations of togetherness on the move in the context of hospitality. In a world where mobile devices linked to online social media and social networking sites are nearly ubiquitous, individuals lead increasingly hybrid lives. It is the blending of the material and the digital, not the distinction between them, that has become the backdrop of contemporary social life. As I have argued, mobile sociality is fundamentally hybrid, emerging precisely out of the blurred boundaries between embodied and electronic (dis)connections. The question at stake, then, is not whether online social networks are distinct from face-to-face ones, but rather how we live with and through this medium. In other words, what kinds of sociabilities and lived experiences of togetherness do social networking sites afford?