the guests departed
March 16, 2011, 6:57 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , ,

Two possible historical outcomes:  social media is a paradigm event that has altered our lives significantly and forever; or social media is a blip on the timeline of media development since the granddaddy printing press event.  Either way, people will write tomes and many more will spill hours away chatting and posting and liking.

For the travel set, posting photos is a favorite activity.  I do it.  We used to shoot film, and develop glossies, and put them in albums on sticky card pages with filmy plastic cover sheets.  And pull them out at family gatherings or during early-on dates with new girlfriends, leaning over each other with new found fascination for far away places.

Before that, our dad’s kept slide carousel projectors in closets.  We’d plug them in on holidays and set up the the portable screen with the white scratchy surface, and mom made popcorn.  People liked it, in a way, but also there would be moans and cringing.

With social media it’s different, somehow.  It’s instantaneous and slick for starters.  Which can make a beautiful electronic conversation:  have a nice time!  welcome home!  love this shot : )  Or, it can turn into an addicting competitive game:  you safaried in Zimbabwe?  Well I swam in October in the Tyrrhenian sea!  And so on.

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seeking each other
December 31, 2010, 2:55 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Facebook has a map widget you can stick pins into to show every place you’ve ever been.  ‘I love to travel,’ has to be in the top three claims on dating sites.  Location based applications will be the next social virus for whoever gets it right, and so far foursquare are in the lead.  Clearly, people care that other people know they’ve been to the right places, at home and around the world.  In social media, travel is part what I want, and part what I want other people to know that I want.  The ratio of one to the other is uniquely yours.

In real travel, there is what I think I travel for, and what I really travel for.  In the essay Sons of the Beach excerpted below, backpackers value independence, frugality and acceptance of locals; but they are really looking for themselves in other like-minded travelers that they meet over there.

The excerpt:

Contemporary sociological and anthropological tourist-behavior studies underscore how these backpacker protagonists are influenced less by their exotic surroundings than the social dynamics of home. In a 2002 study of independent travel communities for the journal Ethnography and Social Anthropology, tourist scholar Christina Anderskov identifies independence, frugality, and acceptance of the locals as central tenets of backpacker culture. But as novels like The Beach illustrate, these values are largely a self-directed rhetoric within the insular confines of indie-travel social circles. As Anderskov acknowledges, backpackers seek each other out, and the travel communities themselves—not the host cultures—ultimately become the focus of travel. Instead of looking for nuances and complexities within the host culture, independent travelers frequently cling to signs of subcultural authenticity in each other.

Sons of The Beach, Rolf Potts and Kristin Van Tassel,

very, very important and very, very glamorous
June 10, 2008, 3:33 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

Lewis Lapham writes about the nomad and the settled.  The nomad thinks about himself and not much else; the settled develops systems of thought and begins to see beyond himself.  When they travel, the idle rich are like nomads:  they have a vague stupid apprehension of the world around them.

“If he can afford the price of the ticket, the nomad comes and goes with the seasons of his desire.  He has neither the time nor the inclination to think very much about the people standing by the wayside.  The settled townsman makes art, science and law; of necessity he must understand something other than himself.  The nomad merely gathers together his tent, his music and his animals, and wanders over the mountain in search of next year’s greening of America.

Transported from place to place at high speeds, suspended in a state of dynamic passivity, the American equestrian classes devote themselves to questions of technique and the relief of boredom.  They can concentrate their attention on the logistics of going to Pasedena for the Super Bowl or to Japan for the cherry blossoms, or the ceaseless repetition of gossip and description of scene.  But when, after prodigious labor, they find themselves on the fifty-yard line or standing under the trees in Kyoto, they can think of nothing to say.  They have no idea of what any of it means, only that it is there and somehow very, very important, or very, very glamorous or very, very sad.”

Lewis Lapham, Money and Class in America