In Those Were the Days and Anti-Travel Advocate I gave a glimpse of tourism in popular cities today. The crowds and the measures authorities take to rein them in.
Another ban: Milan has banned selfie-sticks. As someone who has not taken selfies more than the fingers of one hand in her life, I appreciate it; on the other hand, I loath this patriotism and bans.
Selfie-sticks may be a bit extreme in my opinion but I sure am not endorsing such behaviors like drunken horse-playing, swimming in the fountains, littering and all the disrespectful things tourists do. It's just that I loath the idea of living in a world that basic decent behavior needs to be enforced by police. It's a shame on humanity that such measures need to be taken, that we need to put somebody in charge, a higher authority, who is given the green card to use brute force to ensure a certain level of tranquil communal existence. Instead, we should campaign for better manners, to educate everybody. There should be a decency, a certain decorum when you are travelling, or basically when you are in any public space.
This is not the girls' private pool, it's Il Fontanone ("The big fountain") on the Janiculum Hill. It was built in 1612, that is more than four centuries ago! Is it really so difficult to "know" instinctively that that this is an art heritage, a historical site belonging to all of us, that you do not get in for a swim here? I am really dumbfounded how thoughtless, how tactless these young girls are! I mean they are not some uneducated ignorants we look down upon, just by judging from their headscarves, skin-colors, or the poverty of their dresses. They are obviously "Western", educated (even though obviously unsuccessfully!), and have money as they could travel to Italy in summer. Again obviously, money doesn't buy manners.
You may say "What's the harm?" First of all, these actions might damage the monuments, even if inadvertently. More than that, it's stemming from and enforcing the egoistic self. There is no "What about others?" in that action, there is "Only me."
And this is Fontana di Trevi for God's sake! Is it so difficult to "feel" that it would be disrespectful to bath your feet there? Is there anybody else doing that among the crowd? Some do it to show off and brag that they've broken some rules. I confess, I've done a couple of such things. Like driving in Saudi Arabia when it was still illegal for women to do so. But there is a difference, that was my private business, between the driver of the car and me; whereas these people are acting as if the public space is theirs and theirs alone.
In his Guardian article “Mass tourism is at a tipping point – but we’re all part of the problem” Martin Kettle writes:
“Nearly 30 years ago, researching for a Guardian series on global population pressures, I interviewed the zoologist Desmond Morris. During that interview, Morris said something that was hard to forget. “We have to recognise,” he said, “that human beings may be becoming an infestation on the planet.”
I'm not sure if we are really becoming an infestation because of our numbers; I believe it's rather the degenerative culture we are pumping up through advertisement and capitalism, the way we have set up our economic system. In Venice, cruiseships need to be banned. Simple as that. The city cannot take this flood of tourists. (Talk about migrants!) But it takes guts to say no to huge money. If you are the government and have power, at least do something useful! Take some radical steps. But take radical steps, you are taken down from your power. In this case it might be working though, because in 2017 UNESCO started considering adding Venice and its lagoon to its ‘World Heritage in Danger’ List. That list generally includes historical ruins in war-torn countries! So just contemplate the gravity.
It's just that we live our lives money-centered. As long as we live profit-based, things will not change. People are talking about sustainability, but we need to give it more than lip-service. Social media is contributing awfully to this ego-centric culture as well. We need to stop this race towards vanity and stupidity. We should stop overrating travel. We should stop the pissing match in travel. If you really need to do a pissing match, let it be about your understanding, moral values and character. One does not acquire nirvana status by being to every country, being to as many locations as possible. That just makes you a dromomaniac. Focus on developing your intrinsic values, not the extrinsic ones all media, be it traditional or social, flaunts...
The infestation is not me. Seriously, I'm not a part of the problem. On the contrary, I am trying to be a part of the solution. If anybody cared to listen!
The problem is the fact that they (authorities that is) are trying to cure, or rather find a solution to the symptoms instead of finding a remedy for the causes. Badly behaved tourists, badly behaved people. So you put rules/laws and punishments, you put bans and fines. That's their solution. People really do not know how to strike at the root.
Change the crooked system that is corrupting and degenerating. Stop enforcing extrinsic values and creating a superficial society, start feeding intrinsic values of youth. Do something that will have a foundational more lasting effect!