02 May 2012
It’s been an interesting few weeks. Not only have I been able to enjoy some incredible destinations and activities, but I’ve also been fortunate in that I’ve been able to discover some philosophical and personal truths along the way. Not only have I been enjoying the fine cultural distinctions between countries, regions, cuisines and cultures, but I’ve also been able to draw some distinctions between people, demographic segments and stages in life.
Like most pleasant surprises, these came unexpectedly but with hindsight, I could easily claim that I saw them coming- but in fact. I didn’t. So, what the hell am I talking about?
First of all, let’s get this out of the way. I’m not a ‘Travel Blogger’ and Vagobond isn’t a ‘Travel Blog.’ It used to be (and I used to be) but in fact, all things change and if they don’t change, they tend to break or die which are changes of the more difficult variety. The moment that I disabled the comments and began to welcome other voices, the words blog and blogger were no longer a part of Vagobond’s reality.
There was a part of me that wanted to hang on. I remembered the fun and excitement of the original Blogsherpa community on Lonely Planet. I remembered the feeling of community and the humility that came with being the pioneers in a new industry. It’s funny, but when you look at those original Blogsherpa blogs, you find that most of them have become something else, been abandoned, or are still struggling to find an identity in a world that changes as quickly as a runway model.
The truth is that I can’t see much of a future for ‘Travel Bloggers.’ Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of people who write about travel, many of them on blogs. For the most part, they are nice people who simply want to see some of the world and share it with their family and friends. Sometimes, they are people who have been caught up in the hype of a new industry and they have abandoned their lives in pursuit of a dream of becoming a professional traveler. Then there are the ‘Travel Bloggers’ – these tend to be a group of self-important, narcissistic people who seem more likely to self-destruct or backstab than collaborate or work together to create a new industry.
It’s interesting, because just as in the old game of Italian politics, each of them tries very hard to look like a collaborator but when you go just a tiny bit beneath the surface you find nothing but resentment, back-biting and in-fighting. There seems to be a tiny core of people who must be praised and the rest are all laughed at snidely behind the hand. In fact, they should read Machiavelli because what they are doing is simpering for favor from those they see as successful and trying to put themselves above everyone else at the same time. Ultimately, this can only lead to a massacre. The masses aren’t stupid all the time.
Like self-made reality stars, these people pose for photo ops and tell their story as PR professionals but they seem to have forgotten something. The money they say they deserve has to come from somewhere. Generally, it comes from normal, everyday people who want to have a relaxing holiday. Those people pay the hotels, airlines and tour companies. Those people pay the PR firms. Those people pay for promotion. But it has to come back to normal people or else it just won’t work.
So, who are those normal people? Well, they certainly aren’t all 25-35 year old social media addicts who harbor a deep sense of entitlement. Certainly that group is there – as an amateur anthropologist, I would call them homo sapiens connecticus. They are the children of homo sapiens technicus. The problem is that they don’t seem to think they need to offer more than their sparkling personalities and that somehow that entitles them to being paid. They do have an evolutionary advantage in that they are the first generation of smart phone social media users, however, like homo erectus, one evolutionary advantage does not a winning species make.
Maybe I should call them homo sapiens connecticus primus because the generation following on their heels homo sapiens connecticus secundus might have a few surprises for them. And one should not forget that homo sapiens technicus is going to be on the scene for a long while to come. Technicus is watching and learning from this upstart new species from the still dominant position in the information jungle hierarchy. My impression is that the Boomer/GenX alliance is not at all pleased with connecticus primus and it seems that there may well be a technicus/secondus revolution in the works that will leave connecticus primus bemoaning their fate.
So, what does this have to do with Travel Blogs and Travel Bloggers? I would suggest that connecticus primus has co-opted the terms – along with everything else blog. I feel that it’s important that serious travel journalists and travel professionals begin to distance themselves from this term. It’s time for online travel professionals to join into the community of respected travel journalism. The path to do that demands that the terms blog and blogger be left behind.
There will be (and already is) a lot of moaning about this among connecticus primus. Sadly, because they have already proven that they are incapable of seriously collaborating, nothing more will come of it. Already, I’ve been told not to disparage or disrespect the term blogger, travel blogger, etc. I’ve been told that I’m making the future of the community harder. I can only smile. That work has already been done by the ‘Travel Bloggers’ themselves and besides…I’m not a blogger and I don’t run a blog. I’m an editor, a writer, a traveler and a journalist.