Monday, 17 August 2009

People who travel, and the aching tedium of listening to them

This man's mind is almost certainly BROADER THAN I COULD EVER IMAGINE.
(No, of course I don't mean the black guy. Jeez.)

Sometimes, I love Penelope Trunk (well, to be more linguistically scrupulous I actually just love her blog. But I felt like she deserved a link with the words 'love Penelope Trunk' – SEO-wise, it'll clearly be in line with her web strategy).

Today, she wrote the kind of iconoclastic post that I'd love to have thought of first (but am instead going to piggyback shamelessly): Four reasons traveling is a waste of time.

This chimes – massif-style – with my own thoughts (making allowance for that fact that old Penny, like the rest of us, knows that a good blog post is a little exaggerated, a little provocative in its wording).

For it has long seemed to me that globetrotting has become the unassailable, unquestionable Ultimate Experience in the eyes of our society.

It's an assumption that manages simultaneously to be aggravatingly small-minded and sweepingly, bloatedly decadent.

You see, travel broadens the mind, apparently.

Notice how the people who say that are the people who are always bloody well grinding on in the most breeze-block-ingestingly tedious way about their travel experiences? Notice that, eh?


And notice how incredibly patronising people become when you tell them that you've never travelled outside Europe? How they treat you with about the same air of condescending pity (one suspects) as that with which they greet the third world children with whom they spend a generous half-day or so playing tag before they head off on a month's safari?

Notice how they tell you: 'Man, you have to travel more,' with a gormlessly self-satisfied smirk?

Yes. I noticed that. And I reckon narrow-mindedness suddenly got a whole lot more appealing.

You see, I don't have anything against people travelling. Marco Polo, for instance, did a fine job of it.

No; I have a problem with someone assuming that, because they believe the experience of travel is edifying, I must do, too.

Because if I'm talking to somebody about the fact I play distortion cello, for instance, I don't follow up with: 'You have to learn an instrument, man. It broadens your mind.' Even though I might happen to believe that, in certain contexts, it does. That 'in certain contexts' is key, y'know?

Similarly, if someone tells me they've never read any poetry, I wouldn't dream of reacting with amused condescension. I might think: 'I'm glad that's not true of me'; but I wouldn't be so smugly arrogant as to assume that everyone would draw the same benefit from literature as I.

Anyhow, let's not get into philosophical stuff. That shit's boring. Let's return to the crux of my argument: people who tell you that you ought to travel are almost always the most fucking desperately tedious individuals imaginable.

The kind of people who go to places in order to stick a pin in their shitty Facebook 'Places I've Been!!!!1!' map to impress their similarly shallow m8s


Anyway. You should go read Penelope Trunk's post. Then read the comments, and laugh at all the wounded, affronted travel-lovers as they spitefully retaliate.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely guarantee you that traveling here:
(as Christine and I did last night) would not be a waste of your time. The next time you are over on a Sunday, I actually *insist* we go.

Christine said...

I don't disagree with what you're saying (about people harping on about travelling in a boring way and how everyone else *should* also etc) BUT I just read your woman's blog there and think it's pretty stupid to be honest. Your point is different from hers. She is just coming across as a bit of an idiot there, in my view. What she has written actually reminds me of some crap essay or something you would have been asked to write in school for a class debate where you are arguing something totally ridiculous and pointless but have to come up with four separate points anyway *because it's your homework*. Not very impressive. Also, I don't know if she's been to Northern Ireland or wherever but it really isn't such a great place for learning about other cultures. Absurd blog post (hers)! Why am I even writing this? Haha. And, yes, you should do what Chris says.

FieldVole said...

No, no, no, Christine, the Penelope post is not absurd. I actually rather like the school essay style, and I don't think her points are ridiculous at all - she just exaggerates to get people to respond. And they do.

Billicatons said...

Chris: you're on.

Christine: yep, my point is different -- and, I like to think, characteristically cruder and more obvious.

Voley: yes.

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