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Soapbox: Oh the outrage!

Posted by somtam2000 on 7/3/2016 at 06:08 admin

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In pre-social-media times a traveller would do something dumb or inconsiderate -- say visit a temple sans enough clothes or panhandle on a city street or get really drunk and hurt themselves on a beach -- and the only real witnesses would be those unfortunate enough to be within line of sight.

The worst, most offensive, trangressors, would be passed into traveller lore, a la The Beach. I remember one story about an American who, while riding a motorbike down Pham Ngu Lao Street in Saigon at high speed, hit a street pole and sliced his left arm cleanly off, the arm flying across the street and knocking out another boozing traveller. He probably actually slipped off a beerstool and bumped his head.

No chance of that today.

Within minutes there'd be video, photos and invective plastered across Facebook, Twitter and other "social" platforms, lambasting this latest example of "travellers behaving badly". If the offence was suitably reprehensible, the outrage can easily morph into a witch hunt, as keyboard travellers and moralists endeavour to identify the unfortunate who Dared To Do Something Stupid.

We've done it ourselves here at Travelfish. We've got stories on travellers behaving badly, including this especially popular one regarding ridiculous traveller behaviour in Siem Reap. We are careful though, to not identify people.

Yes, people (not just travellers and tourists) do dumb stuff. They don't read guidebooks or other advisories on how to behave and, well, behave badly. A large part of social media seems to be dedicated to stupidity shaming.

But this keyboard-traveller outrage regarding what are very often minor "transgressions" doesn't sit well with me. This week a couple of travellers selling postcards by Bangkok's Siam Square had half of Twitter in fits of apoplexy. Fund-raising for those who get hospitalised while uninsured is another popular flogging horse.

These social media storms blow dramas out of proportion -- I'm sure the postcard sellers were eventually moved on. And, well, nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to pay into a fund to help someone out who is badly down on their luck.

These storms also reinforce an incorrect assumption that most travellers are clueless, offensive idiots who really couldn't give a toss about the country they are travelling in. Yes, some travellers are exactly like that -- but the vast majority are not.

So next time you see someone walking into a temple inappropriately dressed, rather than snapping a pic and feeding the frenzy, why not walk over to them, say hello and offer them a scarf to wrap around those dastardly bare shoulders?

Who knows, you might even meet someone interesting.

Good travels,


What do you think?

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,065

Posted by Maggiewade on 7/3/2016 at 08:58

Speaking of dumb stuff we met some girls this afternoon on Koh Samui who didn't know that it's not safe to drink the tap water. A little research before travelling is sensible.

#2 Maggiewade has been a member since 7/3/2016. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 7/3/2016 at 14:39

What do you think?

First, I think Maggie may have missed the point of the post with her response.

Second, I agree, but think this problem goes far beyond just social media and travel. One negative consequence of the internet age is definitely the keyboard commandos and web warriors who each day type away with outrage and anonymity about things they know nothing about.

I like your subtle suggestion to be kind and walk a mile in someone else's shoes before piling on. It builds good karma, which will go a long way for each of us when we screw up and do something stupid too. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,816

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