Monday, June 27, 2016

Ethics of Travel, Part II

Another thing I've noticed about the debate over the ethics of travel:  those who complain the most are those who travel the least. While they acknowledged that their gripes were rooted in envy, they resent those who appear to be bragging on Facebook and other social media about their ability to take long vacations and to travel to exotic locales.

I don't believe that I consciously do it to show off, but on those occasions when I travel I usually post more on Facebook than I do on a typical work day.  I don't think I do it as a display of conspicuous consumption, but merely because the travel experience seems inherently more interesting to me and, well, more post-worthy, than an average day at the office.  I rarely stop to think that my post might make someone else feel worse about their life.

It's fairly well known by now that studies have shown that those who spend a lot of time on social media like Facebook are often more unhappy and more prone to depression than those who are casual users. Everyone else is posting their best and happiest experiences on Facebook, creating the impression that everyone, except for the reader, is having a wonderful time and the reader somehow got left out of the fun.  "Look at us!," the others are saying, "We're on a boat!" "Here we are with the five best friends ever having drinks at that cool new club!"  "Guess who just got engaged!  I did!" and so on in a relentless, merciless parade of success and achievement.

No one posts "I'm up a 3 a.m. having a difficult bowel movement," or "Another hour passed at work and yet it seems like quitting time is only getting farther away" or "Marcus doesn't love me anymore - he's found someone more interesting."  That's the part of life we all experience but no one posts about.

Some people use social media like Facebook in order to create the illusion of a better, more successful, more fulfilled, and happier self than they actually are.  It's advertising - deceptive advertising - but it's done by many people to make themselves look better, possibly for social status, possibly for self esteem.  Going through 25 pics to post the one where the wife is not scowling at you.  Posting a profile pic from 10 years ago to look younger and better. Quoting and retweeting those whose coolness or elan you want to emulate.

These people are phonies, but that's not my point.  My point is that we're all guilty of it to one degree or another.  No one's off the hook here, it's just a matter of how much we do it.  Even those who go the other way and post disarmingly candid and honest snapshots of their real lives are guilty to some extent or another of trying to look good by, well, not trying so hard to look good.  Facebook's just a big fiction anthology when you think of it.

So back to those people feeling hurt by the travel posts - don't the other displays of personal and financial success upset you?  Why is travel worse than exuberant socialization? Or accumulation of material things?  Or physical beauty?

But most importantly, why are you measuring yourself by the yardstick of the lives of others?


Jo Hammers said...

What we do in life is a choice. We choose how to spend our money on travel etc. One year, I chose to hop on board a semi truck with a friend for three weeks. I saw a lot of highway and a lot of places that I would have not seen otherwise. On the mainland of the United States, the only state I did not travel thru was Maine. So, an adventure to Maine is my now vacation dream. Adventure is out there even for those who have no money to do so on. I took one of the freebees in my friend's semi truck RV. Somewhere up north, we passed a 'SPAM MUSEUM'. Had I not took the trip, I would never have realized that a can of processed meat was immortalized in a museum. Jo Hammers the Mystic

Shokai said...

Hi, Jo! Glad I didn't lose you with all those Lambchop pictures!