The Evolving Culture of Travel
Travel, a word of two syllables but a myriad meanings. When asking people some would say that to travel is to live, that travel holds treasures one cannot speak of but that can only be felt. Some say why leave and see the other side of the world, that the grass ain't always green on the other side. Travel experiences vary from person to person. But today in our world of collectivism, grows a budding culture of social media travellers. Social media travellers, in simple words are people who visit a specific set of places to take so-called social media worthy photos and share them with the world. Here comes the big question, how authentic are the travel adventures of today and what are we motivated by?At first glance, this seems a very trivial matter, people might even say that's making too much of a hullabaloo about nothing, or that this is based on personal choices. Yes all that may be well and true, but the choices of society today severely challenges the integrity of individualism.
Not very long ago a friend and I had a conversation, she had told me about her chance encounter with a stranger in the airport. The following conversation left me with an utter sense of amazement. Mr. Stranger as we had called him was an engineer, who made it lucky and retired at 45 and since then has been travelling the world and motorbike racing. Mr. Stranger as my friend Roshni, 20, had recounted "was an adventurer with some crazy stories up his belt". She went on to say that he "sneaked into France in the back of a truck with no visa, and got chased by a mad woman who was interested in him in a hotel made entirely of salt somewhere in Bolivia". I had remembered vividly the emotions that I felt upon listening to the story. It was nothing less than amusing, but most of all it was unparalleled. What entails this story is its unique essence that is slowly fading away in our culture of collectivism.If we dial back to not too long ago, travel was synonymous to exploration, expeditions and even globe trotting.
That was the magnificence of travel. One would bring back tales of the seven seas, of pirates and treasure chests, Arabian water routes, stories from deep within the Amazonian forests and the hardships of the Silk Road. These were the stories that fed our world with wonderment. The motivations behind these travels were severely interesting to explore. The Ancient world (700 BCE-250 BCE), where the Greeks gave birth to free curiosity and eagerness to question and the Romans, social utility and practicality, had brought upon some of the earliest travel to date. People of this era, did not travel far, but did do so, for trade and commerce. The rich aristocrats would be able to travel a little further for leisure, but the most common travel was still for trade. The Medieval world ( 250-1500) , or more commonly known as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages was a time when Kings travelled extensively, to reach out to their subjects and to be visibly in control of the kingdom. S. Radhakrishnan, India's second President observed "The very completeness of the edifice of thought raised by the Middle Ages left little room for undiscovered facts and paralysed thought." This epoch, brought upon war and crusades, diplomacy and pilgrimages. Ideas were tested and beliefs challenged. Ramon Llull a traveller of this time travelled to far away places, as it was believed, to "test directly the force of his arguments with people from other places and beliefs".
Renaissance and The Age of Reason (1500-1750) was the mother of famous travellers like Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Jacques Cartier to name a few. The Renaissance was a period of high levels of Romanticism and discovery. While some Europeans during this period pursued these ideals through art, mathematics and other branches of learning, others decided to sail the oceans to explore the world. The Age of Revolution (1750-1900) was a time when Kantian and Marxist theories sipped into society. The Industrial revolution called for business travel as this was a time for the major expansion of trade. Economical aesthetics were the ideals behind the mindset of the people of this time. The motive of travel is multifarious, but one can see a pattern in each epoch respectively. The Ancient times, travelled for trade and commerce, the Middle Ages, for pilgrimages, religious convictions and power, The Renaissance discovery and intellectualism and the Industrial Revolution, business and social conventions.
Now this leaves us the question of what our Modern Age travel entails? The term social media travellers once again, mind you, is in no form an attack on social media, rather a highlight on the thought process that governs this actions. Minus the fancy jargon, the act of uploading to social media would come down to a game of prestige. We currently live in a culture of people who roam about with the ideology of "who dunnit better". This affects all aspects of life including travel. So what entails the travel of today? Simple; attention, acceptance and approval. Travel has long been equated to soul searching but travelling for the approval of others would inadvertently mean the act of selling your soul, which is quite ironic. This matter is not something to be taken lightly. If we continue down this path, we will end up becoming a breeding ground for Xerox copies. What we must realise is that every travel adventure is an experience that is single and unrepeatable.
I am aware that I have been fading in and out of both travel and philosophy, but the thing is I believe that travel is in itself a philosophy. A very noble one that allows people to expand the horizons within themselves. Ray Bradbury had once asserted that "Ours is a culture and a time immensely rich in trash as it is in treasures" and picking trash from treasure is literally up to our reasoning minds. Why waste "our mortal visiting rights", a term coined by poet Ann Lauterbach, on the approval of others. Let us instead take the irrational whims of Mr. stranger and let it guide us through a path less travelled. 1054 wordsSOURCES 1. machaut.weebly.com2. The Philosophy Book by DK3. Conversations with Roshni Anjani Unedited version:"But anyhow we talked and it turned out that he was an adventurer with some crazy stories up his belt. Including sneaking into France in the back of a truck with no visa, getting chased by a mad woman who was interested in him in a hotel made entirely of salt somewhere in Bolivia. Turns out he's an engineer who made it lucky and retired at 45. and since then has been travelling the world and motorbike racing.”