“Passports and visas are the racism of our times,” it says on my homepage. Erick Prince, who wants to be the first African American to go to every country in the world scoffed at my statement saying “As if racism doesn't exist anymore! Lol”
Sure, there definitely is racism diffused in every layer of life everywhere; hey, I even got my share of racism here in Italy. Of course not because of my color but because it is obvious that I am not originally Italian. When I say racism I use it not as discrimination based only on your skin color but in a broader sense, as prejudice and discrimination because of your not belonging to a certain group.
I said “Sure, there definitely is racism diffused in every layer of life everywhere” but that racism is covert and/or it's on an individual level. There certainly is no outright racism today, at least in the constitutional level. Blacks have exactly the same rights as whites in America and South Africa, and anywhere else in the world I suppose. (Please correct me and give contrary examples if I am wrong.) Whereas Birthplace Racism is definitely a racism on a global level, strictly administered by every country in the world! It is institutionalized through visa regimes and accepted as the “nothing wrong with it” status-quo by almost everyone.
Hey, Birthplace Racism is so indoctrinated, so deeply ingrained that even the discriminated against do not see the injustice and birthplace racism behind the visa regimes. Pongtharin, a Thai traveler going to every country says “It is what it is” when asked about his frustration of not being able to go to some places without a visa where Western nationalities can.
As people who have to apply for many visas and witness the randomness (You are not given X visa in country Y but you can get that X visa easily in country Z) and imbecility (”Oh you have to provide hotel reservations and air tickets” says the embassy, “Okay, I'll just go and make fake reservations then” says the traveller) of it firsthand, I would have expected more people from the extreme travel community to see Birthplace Racism but apparently not. I suppose my “misfortune” is to be among the first people to see this Global Apartheid. I have no doubt the future generations will be seeing it the way I do.
On a final note, Erick calls himself the "minority nomad". Who is the minority nomad? He is a minority because he is black?
Let me tell you, true minority in the travel community is anyone not on a European or US passport. Pongtharin is a minority, I am/was a minority as a Turkish. Women are a minority too. Sure, Erick is a minority too, but he -just like Jessica Nabongo, a black American-Ugandan woman,- holds a valuable passport. A passport that has high prestige. There are minorities; also, there are too many non-existent nationalities in the travel community. You don't get a Syrian or an Afghani or any African country citizen in any avid traveller lists. (Oh, actually there might be a South African woman out there, I remember reading about her. But exceptions do not break the rule. The most, she'd be a minority nomad too; it wouldn't change the fact none other African country or a “third-world” country has a world traveller.) In fact, you don't really find them travelling, travelling for leisure that is. There is a reason why. They simply cannot. They have only 25-30 countries they can go to without a visa. It would be truly impossible for them to go to every country unless they were extremely wealthy or powerful. Even an Afghani minister gets only a 72 hour Schengen visa! (Yeah, I know, there is the reverse side of the coin as well where European/Western officials are given 72 hour visas to some countries. Still... That doesn't break the rule either.)
Please... Please... Please start seeing the world as a whole. At least I'd expect that much from world travellers. Please, the world does not revolve only around people with “Western” nationalities. We need hope for the world as a WHOLE! We need to end this universally accepted and worse, invisible Birthplace Racism. Make it visible. Start by spreading the articles I write for example. Thank you. Thank you all on behalf of the invisible majority.
When I saw these photos, I found myself asking “Doesn't this girl have parents?”
Then I asked more questions to myself: Am I just too conservative, too old-fashioned? Am I being over-critical? What harm does it do me? If it doesn't do any harm, why should I bother? Bother her or be bothered myself? Am I too judgemental? She is just having fun. She is young and quite attractive, it is normal.
Or is it? Is this the world we want to live in? Are these the things we'd like to promote?
"Oh, you are old and you simply do not get it. And yes, you are old-fashioned."
"Ok, I accept the 'accusation', I want to keep my old-fashioned ways, thank you."
I really find it difficult to grasp that her parents do not give a word of advice to this girl. I mean it's fine with me if they are fine with their daughter going for fame with half-naked photos in Baobab Avenue or holding seashells to her vagina, or exposing her legs and ass all over Instagram. I have a daughter, so I shouldn't talk big, I don't know what I'd be doing if my daughter turned out to be such a woman. I mean I know of course, I certainly wouldn't approve. However, I also know that I would let her be herself. I have had enough of my mother trying to leash me. On the other hand, I know that I'd probably hug a stone in my bosom and cut my ties with her if she didn't heed my words and our interaction became a zone of constant conflict. There is no reason why people with very different values and no respect for each other should keep a bond. It's sad but it happens.
I am cautious to judge Lexie with the yardstick of my years, she is too young to know much about the world or life. But her parents are supposed to know better, I'd suppose. That's why I find it difficult to understand how and why Lexie's parents support her. I wish there was an interview with them. Because it's not only their saying or not saying anything to such photos, I believe - I mean I may be wrong of course, but I believe there is strong reason to think that they are financing Lexie for this goal. Perhaps they plan/expect it to pay back; after all, they have a travel agency and their daughter is going to hold a Guinness Record.
No, sorry, I do not believe it when Lexie claims she works three jobs to pay for her travels. Call me a cynic, but I don't. How much can one be making out of picking up tourists from airports and guiding? Plus, in between all the rush of travel plans and traveling to every country. I believe her parents are financing her travels, for the most part if not in full. That she pays for her travels is total bullshit even if she might not be spending too much. I realize this is my personal issue. I have an issue because I have not been able to monetize all my efforts. I have not been able to make a cent. I know, it's mostly because I do not want to sell out my soul and become a peg in this cogwheel of travel industry. I cannot stand it.
Yet, I want to make money, I want to have a place in this world, I want to have feedback on my posts on social media. Well, actually I'm not sure if I really want that last one. I cannot deal with people. The less in my life, the better it is. Still... I need some recognition.
Okay, I was glad to come across these posts to see I'm not the only one. When I saw these photos I thought to myself: “Who on earth and why would anyone give photos in a bikini in the Avenue of the Baobabs?” I mean it is one thing she publishes bikini photos by the sea, by the pool or in a waterfall, but this is really something! You don't go to the Avenue of the Baobabs in swim attire. Sorry but Lexie is not traveling the world, she is just promoting herself as a model around the world
Perhaps what bothers me about Lexie is her motto on the main-page of her website.
“How can you change the world if you haven't seen it?”
This girl is definitely not seeing the world; she is not even looking at the world, let alone see it.
Because in order to see, you need to look first. And she is just looking at herself. Yeah, I'm not sure if she sees herself much either. Beyond the physical that is...
I am sort of blind. I do not see things around me. I am one of those people who looks but doesn't see. A friend may pass by me, I may even be looking at her, I may not see. So if I pass you by and don't say “Ciao” it's not because I'm ignoring you, it's only because I was noticing other small details in the surroundings. That's my trait. I see conceptual details, I look behind the physical.
I was going to title this piece “Lexie and Parents”, then I decided to change it. Because this annoys me more because it is associated with travel: This girl is not traveling the world, she is just going around the world holding a magnifying mirror in hand and looking at herself. She is just looking at herself, capturing images of herself and admiring herself in different backgrounds. She is by no means the only one, but she is a prime example. And she is soon going to be the youngest person to travel to every country.
I cry for the massacring of the spirit of travel.
I'll be gaining the wrath of “fellow-travellers” as if I already haven't. But as I have already done so, I can go on some more with my criticisms.
They call themselves travel influencers; what they really are instead is... They are a bunch of advertisement agents to get people to spend money on certain hotels, airlines and other travel related agencies, and gadgets.
Yeah, some do it well. They “hide” their advertisement within “best photos of the year” articles or they pretend they are making an interview with a hotel director or a tour operator. They “review” hotels and airlines making us believe it is totally their honest opinion even though we all know they have been sponsored and, even if indirectly, paid to write those pieces.
What real honest opinion would be is if someone is so jazzed by a hotel, airline, tour agency that they write and promote it without being sponsored. Those days are long gone now. Say good-bye. Only very few like me remain. And I am no travel influencer. If I wanted to be an influencer I'd be an un-influencer of this hype of travel which has become an industry. Travel has lost its charm and has become overrated with the traveller profile proliferating the internet today. It's nauseating, or at least unsavoury when travellers overrate themselves.
"With a membership of only approximately 100 people, it’s one of the most exclusive clubs on Earth. In fact, more people have been to outer space than have earned their way into this, the ultimate travel club..." Says Ric Gazarian in the introduction of his "Counting Countries" podcast.
I find it repulsive when you try to elevate your status with the number of countries you've been to. What makes it worse is that the majority of these travellers are none the wiser despite all their travels. It's all ego boost.
Especially for those 193'ers... They go in for a day and out, tick a box... Of course not all but for most of them, it is 80-90 % at the airport and on the plane, 10-20 % taking photos/videos and posting them on social media, 2 % is actually getting to see and do something in the country.
I don't care much and do not criticize the ones doing this for their personal satisfaction, but I sure take issue with people promoting themselves as travel influencers or going for records, because these people have an impact on society at large.
Apart from the travellers themselves, travel is really not fun these days. Travel in the 21st century is more about visas and air travel. Airports are not fun; when you get to your destination being hassled by poor locals trying to sell you trinkets is not fun. Having to adjust to a new surrounding constantly is not fun. But no one really talks about this stuff. Behind those glossy pictures you see all around social media and magazines, there is a stark reality. There is poverty, there is pollution, there is swindling, all kinds of scams and rip-offs, there is conflict, there is basically the dark side of humanity.
These photos are not mine, I wish I had noted who it was from; yet, I could have easily taken these shots myself. They are a perfect reality check, a complete picture of travel and the world, both in the literal sense and allegorically for humanity and media. It takes just taking a step back to see the whole picture. Yet... Almost no one takes that step back for the overview.
Travellers show you only the first half, they are all like “Oh look how wonderful I am travelling. You could be like me too.”
There is a reason for this of course: To sell. How can anybody sell any trip to the latter?
Sell, Sell, Sell...
I'm sorry to say that women travellers are the worse in this industry. They depreciate both women and travel.
Take the below example. I mean I'd understand it if it was some extreme adventure gear or something, some also become tools in promoting basically totally unrelated items to travel, like yoga clothing, watches, sunnies etc.
Emily Luxton is only one of such “travellers”, she is an “award-winning writer and travel blogger”! According to her website claim. Yeah, I have an issue with these people; more than that, I have an issue with the world who promotes and values such people. Where people of my kind have no place in it.
Emily talks about travelling deeper and slower. Good for her, but where are the values behind deep and slow travel that she reflects on her posts?
Emily says “It really irks me” for people saying they've “done” countries. Good, it irks me too. But what about herself? What she does also irks me. Using travel as advertisement. Talking about what one does, without anything of value.
I understand... I understand one needs to make a living. I realized I need to make a living as well. I had accepted not making money all this time. It's not that I am sitting on my ass and not doing anything. It's not that I produce nothing of value in this world. What I write may not be mainstream, yet, it has to have a place and value.
I understand this is the way our world works today to make money. But seriously... This advertisement thing, this relying on promotion, this “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” is demeaning for the people and it is shaping our character and way of interaction in an awfully bad way. Please... Please... Please reward people of value.
In the article “How the Internet Turns Shopping into an Obsession” by Lauren O'Neill, Oct 15 2018, it says:
“Many people, myself included, deal with consumerist impulses. It's one thing to buy a treat when you've been paid, another to spend hundreds of dollars each month on shit due to a combination of boredom, low self-esteem, and materialism, just because it's easy.”
I know many people have consumerist impulses. We are primed to that impulse by our environment, by everything we are surrounded by. Please suppress your consumerist impulses. Please make the internet turn virtue into an obsession. I do not know how you do it, but do it. Stop the promotion and talk about values and wisdom perhaps, talk about special interactions.
You are supposed to see these people travelling to these wonderful exotic destinations, read how wonderful things they did, have your mouth water with their food photos and try to imitate them. Perhaps then, all your worries in life will fade. You will be a new person. It doesn't work out that way. Becoming takes hard work. Being a full and fulfilled person is lifetime work.
Travel and travel influencers today are overrated. Where are the travellers of once upon a time? The real journalists? I don't want to say there are none, but they certainly are hard to come by.
Just to end on a positive note...
Johnny Harris from Vox is doing a good job with his Borders documentary. But he is no travel influencer. “One World Many Cultures” by Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg is a wonderful book, but it's not a bestseller. Let's promote people whose work bring wisdom, add value to us and our world.
PS: I don't have affiliate links, I will not be earning a fee if you click on any link here. So please consider contributing to my project of going to every country to burn my passports to protest global apartheid and birthplace racism. Thank you.
Some simple folks see it that they are fine with 50 % of their income going to support someone in need. Trouble is... only a few percent of their/our tax monies help the poor. I am not fine that even 1 % of my tax money goes to the military, or the pockets of some corrupt politician or any other item that I do not approve of. I do not want to pay even a cent for some things. I do not give my consent. Yet, most, I'd say probably 90 % of my tax monies go to places I do not wish.
So I have a proposal. Which can satisfy both sides... You believe we all should chip in for the community, you want to force people to cough up money, you want to tax people? Ok, fine. (I am against any use of force and am all for voluntaryism but let's say, for the sake of argument, that not enough people are “good” or “unselfish” enough to share or contribute to the well-being of us all, yet we somehow need to make sure we function as a society, so taxing is a necessary evil.)
You may even dictate how much everyone is supposed to pay. But you may NOT dictate where the money they give will go to. You have to give them the means to decide where their money goes.
With today's technology, it's not that difficult. My proposal is partially put into action in Italy. You may give 5 per thousand of your due tax to any NGO of your wish. I don't see any reason for it not to be a 1000 per thousand. The government makes a list of expenditures and how much is needed for what. Then, people go online and pay their taxes distributing it to causes they see worth. It's that simple. If something is not seen as necessary, it won't get enough funding and cannot be put into action. Today's “democracy” is totally fake. The real democracy, in the sense that people get to run the countries is only possible when we can say where our monies go.
Money runs the world. Unfortunately. And it's very important that the one who pays the piper plays the tune. Whereas now, we are paying and they (the governments) are playing the tune. It's totally UNACCEPTABLE.
Erdoğan recently built a “White Palace” with a thousand rooms. Now... There are people who would like to brag about their government/country being so grand, these people are free to pay for such a presidential palace. But I am not fine and do not consent that I give a cent to pay for this lavish expenditure. If there is anybody who wants to pay for controls, for erecting walls/fences, for fancy tech equipment that makes war-mongers get rich, let them. There are people who feel more comfortable and secure that way. Anybody who wants to give money to soldiers, let them give it. Anybody who wants to pay for the security equipment at airports, to put security officers here there and everywhere on a salary, help yourself. But don't oblige me to do the same.
Even then, I fear that I would still be in the minority and the majority would be supporting what the status-quo propagates, they'd go on with the indoctrination as they have the mob; still, it might be just a bit easier for me to accept the situation than now. Now, it's the people with the money, the lobbyists running the world. But the numbers are on the side of ordinary people and we might just have a chance if we are given the smallest amount of power. It's time that we, the people, play the tune if we are the ones paying the piper. It is time to put that saying into reality:
The one who pay the piper, plays the tune.