Why Your Obsession with (Insulting) Travellers Means You’re Writing Mediocre Shit

Today, I read what was easily the worst piece of writing I’ve come across this year…and considering I read a lot and it’s part of my job to keep track of news and articles, that means it’s nothing short of abysmal.

It’s so awful on every single level, I’ve decided to have some fun with it. So here’s my response to this two-bit, second-rate hack who has the audacity to publish this travesty.

Mr. Jeffrey Grey, this aforementioned article of yours is the journalistic equivalent of what exits my rear end after I’ve had coffee with my breakfast, South Indian food for lunch, more coffee at teatime, Mexican food for dinner, and copious amounts of hard liquor for supper.

I say this not because I disagree with your opinions, but because this horribly negative view you have of people who love travelling is based on the very things any half-decent writer should avoid: oversimplification, sweeping generalizations and unwarranted condescension.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Rubbish 01

You are right about the existence of young people for whom travel is a form of escape from the realities of life, like a career, a home, an actual future. And yes, they are usually privileged kids using their parents’ money to avoid growing up. You are right about this particular thing, I’ll give you that. But what’s it to you?

Rubbish 02

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And then you go on to destroy any credibility you might have had by asserting that the only people with a constant desire to travel have or even “want” mediocre lives. It could only go downhill from there and boy, did it hurtle downhill.

Rubbish 03

Firstly, what’s wrong with “just” seeing and enjoying? Secondly, who died and made you the authority on what constitutes a life worth living or a job worth doingI know for a fact that when I travel — and by golly, do I fucking love travelling — I make a positive impact on the economy. The money I pay for my flight and accommodations, the food I enjoy and the things I buy contribute to the livelihoods of the airline and hotel staff, the restaurateurs and business owners.

Rubbish 04

Oh, now you’re the authority on everyone’s creative process? Kind of contradicts the nature and defeats the purpose of creativity, doesn’t it?

No Suicide

Also, as someone who travels at least twice a year and wishes she could do so more often, I can assure you that the only thing people “obsessed” with travel are “conceding” is that there is so much worth doing, seeing and maybe even creating in so many parts of the world, we want to get out there and experience it. Didn’t think that one through, did you, genius?

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I didn’t think this abortion of an article could get any worse, but it just did. Firstly, you’re assuming everyone has / should have the genius-level IQ and therefore, the same priorities as Albert Einstein. Secondly, now you’re the authority on what Einstein thought and didn’t think? Damn!

I’m sorry (not really) to break it to you, but people in real life don’t spend every waking moment wondering whether they can invent this generation’s super computer, or publish a judgmental article on Thought Catalog castigating people who dare enjoy themselves by travelling.

And no, it’s not because they live mediocre lives. It’s because, rich or poor, famous or not, male or female, they have bills to pay, jobs to do, households to keep in order…the list goes on. You know, the very responsibilities you accuse travellers of shirking.

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Aaaaaand…it gets worse! I don’t know about the rest of you, but it seems most people who love travelling are the opposite of “afraid to try anything”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but fear isn’t really a handy trait to have when travelling to foreign lands, especially for the first time.

And are you writing a fucking indie screenplay here? Running far away and taking menial jobs we would be ashamed to take back home just so we can continue running? What the fuck is this? The Travel Diaries of a #Hipster?

Rubbish 07.PNG

Aww, that’s sweet. You spared a thought for us inferior beings and cared enough to validate our need to travel…but only if we take “periodic” vacations (in which case, “from time to time” is redundant, by the way).

Never mind that some of us can actually afford the time and money to travel for months at a time; it’s a pyramid scheme that’s duping an entire generation! Oh, it’s such a shame you care so much about people who care so little about what you think. They’d rather throw their future away than listen to your inane ramblings. Tsk tsk.

Now I don’t know if you’re unable (physically or financially) to travel, or just too afraid to leave the comfort of your own home to explore the rest of the world. But I do know that despite your efforts to mask it with false concern and a façade of wisdom beyond your years, all this cynical, scathing criticism of those who love to travel is just a projection of your envy and bitterness that you cannot and / or will not do the same.

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Travel, even if it’s just “for the sake of #travel”, is great. It gives us a break from work, affords us new experiences, and broadens our knowledge of different countries and cultures in ways merely watching it on TV or reading about it cannot.

It may not lead us to become famous entrepreneurs, inventors or philanthropists, but so what? You’re not entitled to the fruits of our potential greatness. And people may not remember me for my desire to travel, but the friends I’ve made on those travels are very unlikely to forget me, or me them. In fact, I met the most wonderful man I’ve ever known on one of my trips to Europe, and my life has most certainly grown much richer for it.

I’m not from a wealthy family, and I had to get a job that provided a stable income (yes, one of the things you assume constant travellers lack) before I could afford even an economy flight ticket. But I’m not escaping my responsibilities when I travel. I enjoy what I do for a living, but I also want to see as much of the world as I can. And I’m far from the only person I know with a similar story.

So really, instead of spreading your vitriol all over the Internet and attempting to disguise it as well-intentioned advice just because your life is mediocre, here’s some advice from me to you: Get your judgmental behind out there and experience life in countries besides your own. And if you can’t or won’t do that, don’t hate those who can and do. Bitterness is not a good look, especially on a grown man.

Let’s get that head out of your arse.

A Cautionary Tale

Date a girl who reads. Better yet, date one who also writes.

Date a girl who reads, so she will naturally analyze every word that escapes your lips, pick up on every single nuance in your speech, notice every single change in your tone of voice. She will analyze all of that and try to determine if you are happy, angry, sad, apprehensive, etc.

Date a girl who also writes, so she will take all those thoughts that often border on paranoia, and perfectly express them to you. She will ask you why you said a certain thing in a certain way, and whether or not she did anything to cause you to say that certain thing in that certain way. Don’t be taken aback. The girl who writes is hardwired to ask such questions, to ascertain the five Ws and one H in every situation.

She may go on a bit when she communicates with you, because of the countless thoughts in her head, most of which revolve around you. Be patient; hear her out and think carefully before you answer, but never lie. Never be dishonest, because she will find out, and when she does, she will wonder why you felt the need to be anything less than straightforward with her. She may think you deem her incapable of handling the truth, or that you don’t respect her enough to be honest with her. Either way, never lie or tell half-truths to her.

The girl who reads is likely to have a vivid imagination, so don’t be surprised if she gets slightly panicky when you don’t reply to her messages or return her call for days — if anything, she’s worried because she gives a damn, and her worry is usually exacerbated by her colourful imagination.

She will share with you her favourite poetry verses by Keats, Byron and Frost. She will quote Shakespeare, Wilde and Austen to you. She will wax lyrical about Nabokov, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. She will show you her endless library, with everything from Dahl and Marquez to Lim and the Brontës within. All these will tell you something about herself, and how she feels about you.

The girl who also writes will take time out of a busy day to send you a sweet email. When she has more time, she will take pains to write you letters and notes, showcasing the best of her penmanship and literary prowess via her affection for you. These will come randomly, whenever inspiration strikes. But she loves you, and inspiration strikes often. Tell her you love her and want nothing more than to be with her, and you may even get a book written exclusively for your eyes only — a handwritten, hand-bound book whose contents run the entire gamut of emotions she feels for you, and captures every single significant memory she has shared with you.

Take the time to feel flattered by these overtures. Realize you are the centre of her universe. Let a few months pass. Notice that her writings to you have gotten more sporadic. Stare a little too long at the discolouration and fine lines under her eyes, lines that were not there before. Ask her about them. Listen as she tells you she’s been up late writing, and wonder why you haven’t been getting notes and letters as a result of these late-night literary excursions. Let her tell you she is working on her own project, and rushing deadlines for several publications. Feel your inflated ego sag ever so slightly under the weight of her career and dreams.

Feel yourself grow increasingly annoyed as she shows up late or misses her appointments with you because of urgent deadlines, or because she only managed a small fraction of her usual forty winks the night before and so ended up oversleeping. Have her apologize profusely to you and try to make it up to you in every way possible. Blame her for being unable to follow a strict schedule.

Arguments will ensue. Apologize to each other, kiss, make up. Have make-up sex; it will work for a while. Once both of you have realized that it does indeed bring you closer, pick your mobile phone up as she sends you cheeky text messages filled with double entendres and sexual innuendo. Chuckle to yourself as you appreciate how her way with words extends far into the gutter. Go home. Have more sex. Be happy again for a few months.

Arguments will still occur. Let them escalate into shouting matches, name-calling, the exchange of insults. Don’t speak for days. When you finally do, try to one-up her when hurling verbal and written barbs at each other. Immediately regret dating the girl who writes, because her sarcasm and vitriol knows no bounds. Tell her she’s obstinate and has a serious attitude problem when you simply can’t win the war of words. Let her reply to that allegation with even more sarcasm and vitriol. Feel your anger and frustration compound.

Tell her things aren’t working out. Be perverse and even a little sadistic — break up with her on a day of significance, because you know she will remember it and be absolutely crushed. Her birthday, Christmas day, the anniversary of her father’s death, her cat’s birthday, New Year’s Day…any of these will do.

If you want to be written about, break the heart of the girl who writes. Break it as painfully and dramatically as you can manage. Watch as she stares right past you, stone-faced, tears slowly streaming down her porcelain skin. Prepare to have your inbox flooded with livid, biting emails from the girl who writes. Wonder where she’s gone when she disappears for several months, but allow your pride to prevent you from contacting her.

Stumble upon her new blog, where the legend of how you smashed her heart to smithereens has been immortalized. Feel a strange combination of indignation and pride wash over you; you’ve been written about once again, albeit under vastly different circumstances.

Realize that she has maintained her way with words, her sense of humour, her unique perspectives, her ability to think critically and go for the jugular when necessary. Then realize that all of that is now tinged with a subtle yet unmistakeable air of cynicism. Wonder why you ever dated the girl who reads and also writes, with all her intelligence and articulacy and creativity; those very qualities that made her expression of love for you so deep and wonderful also made her take-down of and retaliation to you so sharp and hurtful.

Stew in resentment for a while. Promise yourself you’ll never again date a girl who reads and also writes. Whine a little — or a lot — to anyone who will care to listen. Stay single for a while. Then date a girl who, like you, neither reads nor writes. Have an unremarkable relationship. Propose and get married. Have unremarkable kids, and an unremarkable life. Think every now and then of that girl who read and also wrote, with whom you shared a life once upon a time. Wonder how she is now, but allow your pride to prevent you from contacting her. Tell yourself you are happy.

Die an unremarkable death, and maybe — just maybe — finally read a fucking book before you go.