The New Imperialism
Over the last few years, I've seen a huge trend in quitting ones job and traveling around the world. This was first fueled by the economic crisis. We all heard not so woful tales about bankers being laid off only to use their presumably hefty severance checks to travel the world and find themselves. Next came the photographer, writer or website designer, inspired by Chris Guillebeau to hack their credit card airline miles and consider a laptop with wifi connection their office. Those of us stuck in our windowless offices could momentarily live vicariously through travel blogs with the occasional pang of envy hitting us, as new photos appeared on our Facebook feed. We clicked through photos of our friends or even an engaging stranger as they bussed their way through Asia - brave enough to navigate a language barrier and foreign country for the promise of deliciously inexpensive food and the experience of local culture. In between our slight jealousy - we learned something. They opened our eyes to how other people lived. We silently thanked them for being ambassadors, making the world just a little bit smaller. But after the major landmarks were visited, and famous, Asian street food consumed, there was a new frontier to be had. Enter our current day. In favor of reflective blog posts, used as an alternative to a travel journal - we have the more immediate - Instagram. In place of self-reflection, we have the outward attention grabbing hashtag. And with it, a move to newer journeys - venturing into Africa. A stunning, envy-inducing vacation within a vacation at a Travel & Leisure-worthy resort smack in the middle of a war-torn, third world country. Gone are the photos of local culture and attempting to experience the world that 99% of a country's population experiences. Instead, we have Americans from a first world country, wealthy even for American standards - taking advantage of their power and status in a country where few have any. What is fueling this new behavior? Is it narcissism? The impulse to self-promote? The last decade has shown an increase in the desire for experiences over the accumulation of stuff. Is this the Berkin bag of experiences?
Whatever it is - with great power comes great responsibility.