Do we really need to scrupulously record our travels in this decade? After reading this article on packing a “multimedia backpack,” I am confused: as much as the suggestions are important, do we really need to “go forth and journalize”? Possibly yes. Most traveler types dream to earn a living by doing what they love: visiting far flung destinations, meeting different people and exploring alien cultures. It is indeed very inspiring to think we may just get out and transform our digital travel memories into first grade – albeit do it yourself – storytelling material. It is exciting to think that low cost, accessible technology may be the key to a “New Wave of Travel Writing” that reminds me of the spontaneity and freshness of the New Wave and Punk music genres when they first came about in the ‘70s.
There is a catch, tough: as with such music genres, the quantity of the offer surpassed its quality. Furthermore, it eventually attracted the shark’s fangs of the corporate music business, ultimately becoming the new, alternative options of the same business’ corporate offer. Back then, the impulsive virulence of punk rock transformed into another product to be packaged and sold to hordes of angry teenagers. And I think that it would not be too great to see the same happening with travel media, or “journalism”.
On my most recent travels, I have met more people looking at the world trough their cameras and HD camcorders’ lenses than their own eyes. Places and peoples are now transformed by the deforming quality of polarizers, microphones, quotes, and filtered through other people’s eyes and words. And I fear that by continuously trying to give travel a “journalistic” sense, we may as well lose the actual focus of our own travel experiences. Why do we travel, after all? To make a movie, or enrich our lives?
During my last long vagabonding from Asia to Europe overland, I had to carry a laptop to be able to write – to me, a very important task – and follow up with my family, friends and “work” contacts, but I voluntarily decided to leave the camera at home. I delegated my partner and travel companion to the visual part of the trip. I thought that, realistically, there would have been no way I could have written, taken pictures, made videos and recorded audio of my trip altogether. I decided that the one and only recorder I would have always let “turned on” had to be my mind, and my capacity of observation. And for the notes, I scribbled away the essential on some torn pieces of paper that I would have typed later on, in the same or the next evening.
I decided I did not want to be a machine, or become the employee of my own mental employer, for the sake of the “Go Forth and Journalize” God. I wanted to have fewer tasks to worry about, and concentrate on my most successful one only. I wanted to have FUN, and not just transform my trip into workaholic hedonism disguised for travelling.
And now that the trip is over and I am looking back at the while experience, I am glad I decided to disconnect a bit from the wires of electric technology, and connect more to the ones of my own judgment and will. I do not regret any single day, nor any lost picture opportunity: every moment is perfectly vivid in my mind as the most glorious experience I ever had. And at times, there is no real need to record or picture that feeling. In case I wanted, I can always write… and maybe make it even more glorious.