Monday, March 28, 2016

Travel obsession makes your life "mediocre"?

I'm taking a break from blogging about our recent trip so I can blog about another travel related topic.  You see, somehow, I ended up subscribed to a site called "Thought Catalog".  The other day, while pissing away time in England, I ran across this article by Jeffrey Grey called "Why Your Obsession With Travel Means You’re Living A Mediocre Life".

Mr. Grey wrote an essay that, at this writing, has inspired 98 comments from the peanut gallery, the vast majority of which appear to be penned by people pissed off at Grey's anti travel attitude.  I must admit, when I first read his essay, I had a similarly negative reaction to his comments that people who travel incessantly are wasting their lives away somehow.  After re-reading the essay, I think Grey is writing of young people who are just post college that keep postponing "real life" by traveling non-stop.  Instead of looking for what Grey considers "meaningful work", these folks are hopping from country to country, working at menial jobs, not contributing to the world or achieving anything.  Unfortunately, the essay is rather poorly edited, so it sounds like he's addressing everyone who travels, no matter why they do it.

I shared the article on my Facebook page and most of my friends who commented were very negative about Grey's thoughts.  Only two were somewhat neutral.  I think all Jeffrey Grey has managed to do is alienate people by coming at them with an over the top tone.  As I read his thoughts on "incessant travel", I started comparing him with Donald Trump.  Grey writes, "People obsessed with travel are conceding that they don’t have anything actually worth doing or creating. You don’t create while on the move, you create when you stay in one place."  I disagree with this statement, but I think I know where it's coming from.  Sadly, I think Grey has a very narrow perspective; he seems young and unenlightened, like he needs a good mental enema so he can think outside the box.  He also comes across as a little jealous that he can't do any traveling himself.

As to Grey's thoughts on traveling "too much" when you're young, all I have to say is that Americans are, by and large, a hugely undertraveled people.  Many Americans don't even own a passport and those who do, don't necessarily use it very often.  On our most recent trip, Bill and I befriended a nice couple from London.  The male half said, "I hope this doesn't sound condescending, but you two are extremely well-traveled for Americans."  Neither Bill nor I were offended.  Our new friend speaks the truth.  Americans really don't get out as much as people from other countries do and there are a lot of reasons for that.

I think one BIG reason why Americans don't travel is because so many of them have bought into the line of bullshit being spewed by Mr. Grey.  He thinks people should be putting their noses to the grindstone and working all the time.  In America, work is king.  Many workers are not fortunate enough to have paid time off, and plenty of folks need to keep working so they can keep the lights on at home.  Even those who do have vacation time may have employers who discourage workers from using it, even if using it may make them more productive and creative.

But say you have vacation time.  Now you need to have enough money to go somewhere.  And if you plan to go far, that means flying.  Some people are afraid to fly and some just plain hate the experience.  And some are afraid that if they go somewhere, they'll face anti-American sentiment or a terrorist attack.

Personally, I love traveling, even as I hate some of the hassles that come with travel.  I didn't used to love traveling.  Before I started exploring the world, I thought I just wanted to have a run of the mill life in Virginia or some adjoining state.  I thought I'd get a job, get married, and have kids.  Life turned out differently for me.  Sometimes I'm sad about the things I don't have that I thought I would, but I'd be crazy to say that I live a "mediocre life".  Shit, I pretty much get to do whatever I want every day.  I have gotten to see and do so many cool things... and I get to write about the experiences and show off my pictures.  My travels even inspire me to make music, which I did today.

I guess Grey would look at me derisively as a "travel blogger" and not even a particularly successful one at that.  But why is how I live my life his business?  Better yet, why am I writing this blog post?  Who cares what Jeffrey Grey thinks?  There's more than one way to get through life.

Of course, even as I write this, I realize I'm a hypocrite because I opine all the time about other peoples' choices.  For instance, why should I care if stepparents "marry" their stepchildren?  I guess I don't, really, except when they choose to make their choices everyone's business by putting them in the news for all to see.

Jeffrey Grey is certainly entitled to his opinion.  I think he would have had a more successful article had he not alienated people from the get go with his derisive Trumpish attitude about people who don't think like he does.  On the other hand, his article is getting read and commented on and, in some circles, that spells success, right?  Maybe it's not a good thing to be too careful and non-offensive with one's language.  Some of my most popular pieces have been controversial, even though they sometimes bring out the crazies.

Anyway, I'll go on record as saying that Jeffrey Grey's pissy essay probably made me a better person. At the very least, it gave me something to think about and write about.  Creativity is a good thing, even if it's spawned by something negative.  And hell, everybody's got to have a passion, right?  If I can't have a full time career or a passel of kids, what's wrong with being passionate about traveling?  At least when I travel, my readers don't end up with a stomach bug... though maybe sometimes my writing makes them want to barf.


4 comments:

  1. As someone who really doesn't travel, I found the article to be most condescending and insulting. I'm generally put off by people who think they know what other people should do with their lives.

    I don't travel much because I've chosen to emphasize education in my life, and when I have a break, I usually need rest too much to be jetting off to another continent. I hope to have enough time and sufficient health to be able to travel in the future. My brother has more energy than I do. He's giving up a part of his youth to go into educational overdrive (considering that he is where I am educationally at the identical age while not being as smart even as I am), but he has borrowed some money, and when we have a significant break, he goes somewhere.

    For me, it works out to focus upon school. For others, traveling is the better option. Why shouldn't people travel when they have virtually no obligations? So what if some of them are using their parents' money? That would be their parents' problem, not Jeffrey Gray's. Perhaps he is angry because his parents couldn't or wouldn't fund his travel experiences. Does Jeffrey think this is a new phenomenon? Young people have been traveling the world between college and grad school for decades.

    I would have a problem (though it's still not my business) with people who repeatedly or extendedly leave their children in the care of paid help while they travel. People without encumbrances, however, should do as they please. As long as they're not filing for bankruptcy when they return home, it's no skin from my nose.

    His bio blurb says Jeffrey Grey is a retail manager. I wouldn't exactly say that falls under the umbrella of creating something important for the world. Perhaps Jeffrey manages a crew of telemarketers who interrupt us all during dinnertime on a nightly basis.

    Seriously, if Jeffrey was just trying to gain attention with his rather inflammatory article, he succeeded. If he was trying to make a legitimate point, he fell flat on his @$$.

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    1. Your reaction is noted. It was the same of most other readers.

      I generally agree with everything you've written, I don't think what Grey has written about is an actual issue for most people. Most are happy to get a weekend in a hotel somewhere.

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  2. I went back and read the comments. they're about 14:1 against Jeffrey grey's point of view. If he personally thinks travel is a waste of time, more power to him. what I don't get is his belief that he knows what is right for everyone. I would find his dogmatic approach offensive if he were 60 years old and the President of the United States. to hear such preaching from someone not all that much older (and probably not a whole lot more successful) than I is crazy.

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    1. Yeah... and you're right, of course. I felt the same way when I read it. But, as a writer/blogger, I have to admit that Grey's essay made a stir. People responded to it, albeit in a negative way. It probably made some money for someone. Hits tend to generate revenue.

      Again, even though I think Grey's views are wrong he does have the right to express them. And since he did express them, he has inspired others. I wrote my piece about his essay and I think at least one or two others who commented were also moved to create something. So, in that sense, his post was beneficial.

      Overall, though, I think Grey is clueless and needs to broaden his horizons a bit. He's looking a little too much like Donald Trump.

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