Level of Intelligence
It all started with the argument of Cassie de Pecol and her being the first documented woman to go to every country or not.
Janice Lintz, who was one of the most active members of EPS* at the time had written a post about Cassie on Huffington Post. Finding her post devoid of logic, I had to speak up on defense of Cassie. (You see, I don't care the least bit about Cassie but I care for injustice.) So I wrote a piece The First Documented as a reply to Ms Lintz's piece. As I was at it, I also wrote The Fight Over First and The Pissing Match in Travel. (You see, I find all this fight over being the first and the pissing match deplorable.) People are travelling the world with no dent in their ignorance. They are Playing the Every Country Game without even realizing they are playing a game and understanding anything about the reality of the world beyond themselves. They live in a world apart.
(* EPS- Every Passport Stamp is an extreme travellers Facebook group)
Anyway... Going back to the level of intelligence of the group... I'll spare you the unbearable details and just get to the heart. This is the exchange when a moderator "walked in" to interfere in the conversation which was getting heated.
Ryan Gazder was the only one who put a like on my answer. However, he had put a like on Petro's post as well. I told him that he was on my side ;) but he said he didn't take himself or anything seriously... It sort of is a shame when the few intelligent/smart people who get things do not care and do not take a stand. But that's life. That's humanity!
Now... At this point, I normally would have left such a group. A group where some "stupid" person refers me to a podcast and a personal book as documentation by authority as an argument and gets 5 likes!!.... No no no... That shows the quality, or rather the non-quality of the group. Or should I state it openly?... The imbecility of the group.
Or it is the immaturity of accepting a wrong.
Whichever it is, I certainly wish to have nothing to do with such people.
Plus, what makes it all worse is this person is a moderator in the group! Come on!...
I would never be "ruled over" by such a person unless I have no other choice. I detest any sort of authority over me let alone an imbecilic one. I am obliged by the political system of the world to abide by many idiotic rules and to be ruled over by power hungry individuals but I don't suffer fools gladly.
Still... I persevered. I had got out of so many groups before, this time I wanted to stick around.: at least until the end of my mission.
But the same issue continued at another level with other people as well.
Jessica and Dumb!
There was a post about a podcast with Jessica Nabongo who was trying to become the first African-American woman to every country. In the podcast, Jessica had talked about Cassie without even mentioning her name and oh, there was so much hatred towards Cassie, especially Janice Lintz, and she didn't miss the opportunity.
I was so very much bothered with this snickering and mocking of Cassie, these two women talking so obnoxiously: Janice hanging on to some mysterious obsessive grudge against Cassie, and Jessica not looking at herself,
This woman, that is Jessica, was running to 90 countries in 13 months herself; I mean that was her plan and she was boasting about this. Yet, she was criticizing Cassie for being to every country in the fastest category!?? What is the point of travelling to 90 countries in 13 months and how different is it than just going to the airport?
Yeah yeah, she interacts with people and experiences the culture!
Rudeness or Incapability or Immaturity?
Now... I take it to be extremely rude not to answer a simple question. However, I have come to learn very well that if someone does not answer a simple question it is because s/he cannot answer it.
Plus, of course, it means they are not mature enough to take back their words when shown clear evidence of their irrationality.
Dumb and Dumber
Then there was this conversation where Jessica retorted with the following response to people making a valid point about her.
Yes, it is a wonder that such "prestigious" media outlets found this to be "newsworthy" even without her accomplishing the task.
Jessica was just one of those self-entitled ego-centric travellers and I responded with A Black Woman versus a Poor Afghani
While I do not doubt that it is difficult to travel as a black woman, it is indisputable that the main challenge of travel is not your gender but the passport you hold and Jessica has an American passport plus a Ugandan one. End of discussion.
I still endured the group. However, there came another red light. This time from the founder of the group himself.
Mogadishu- An Open Scolding
I had been wanting to go to Mogadishu for a long time but it was expensive to go on your own as you needed to pay for armed guards. So I decided to put a post asking to see if anyone would be interested to share expenses.
Jason Thomas responded:
To me, we were having a friendly "tiff" if that is the right word... and this time Stefan walked in! Which is something unheard and unseen of, let me tell you. There had been so many arguments and bad-mouthing in so many other posts but in none did I see Stefan say a word. In fact, he rarely contributed to the group, he basically wasn't around.
So when he did this, it hit me; it hit me hard.
What was this?? Why were we being singled out?? I was seriously taken aback by such a scolding out in the open for everyone to witness.
I wrote the following answer to Stefan but cannot find the screenshot for it:
"Petro, Rick, Caroline Santina Lupini, Alexander Fleming...
Sorry but why are we singled out with Jason to be reprimanded like children here? Especially given that the discussion had ended for us, after the thread has been idle for so many days?... Especially given that there are so many insults going on in other threads in this group.
I have nothing against Jason. Don't know about his view of me but I even like him in a way. The meme I posted was not for him, it was referring to other people in another thread, I'm hoping and believe he got it.
Why did you feel the need to single us out here Stefan? Or am I wrong, are there other people you did this? If so, sorry, I just haven't come across any.
Sebastian said “Are you on drugs?” I wasn't offended, didn't feel the need to take it personally as I am not. However, is that a fine thing to say? No warnings for that? Or somebody had called me “dolt”, I did not know what it meant and thought it was some misspelling, then by chance, found out the meaning. I believe it has been removed, but why not warn people who use such words? Are they fine to use, are they civil?
This conversation is DUMB! (Not my sentence. I copied from Jessica Nabongo. But I suppose it is not an insult and it is not uncivil as it didn't get any comment from any moderator. So I suppose it would be fine if I use it too?)
In my first round-the-world tour Jody and Sally went to the mercato in Ethiopia. They were looking for t-shirts. They went into a shop. The man looked at Jody and said “Okay for you” He looked at Sally and said “No, you are fat.”
They went into another shop. The man said “Yes for her, but no for you. You are fat." When the same thing happened a third time, Sally started to get irritated. She was protesting "Don't these people know it's an insult to call a person fat?" That's when she realized that we were in Ethiopia: a country where there was famine. So it actually was a compliment for them to say that she was fat. Her plumpness was a sign showing she had food to eat and was healthy.
So perhaps we have a cultural misunderstanding here. Would be nice if you please clarify things a bit more on what is appropriate and what not.
And do you believe making false accusations without any proof is fine? I suppose it is as it has been tolerated in this group without any reprimand. Or is it fine and tolerated if the false accusation is directed to a person identified en masse as a hate target?
You have put rules for us, what about rules for moderators? What about not using double-standards for example?"
I ended my post like this:
Mind you, here I clearly stated that I would normally get out of such a group but wanted to leave them the pleasure of removing me. "Nip it in the bud" was Petro's way of getting back to me for her stupid comment. She had made a separate post reminding the rules, not responding to me directly but obviously insinuating
At that point, I had grown very disenchanted with the group. Yet, I wanted to persevere. For once.
I had written what I thought and Stefan did not respond. I took this silence as acceptance of my criticisms and let it go one more time.
But then, Djibouti denied boarding happened.
Djibouti and Reaching the End of My Limit
For more than 25 years, Djibouti had VOA-Visa On Arrival for every country and that's what I was told by the French Embassy and the Honorary Djibouti consul here in Italy. However, when I went to the airport, I was denied boarding because Djibouti had, at a whim, decided to cancel VOA.
What is more annoying is that they reversed the decision and went back to VOA five days later. So my misfortune was that I had my flight on one of those days.
Now... As this is an extraordinary circumstance that is beyond my control, Turkish Airlines should have reissued me my ticket even though it was non-refundable. However, they did not and kept parroting "Visas are the responsibility of the passenger."
Thinking this to be an issue which interested all travellers, I wrote an article about it and posted it in the group. That was where the donkey fell- that is, the moment of truth hit.
When I had joined the group, I had said to myself that I'd never be getting into such issues about visas and passports. I know that it gets me into trouble if I say what I believe out loud in groups. I know the topic is controversial. So I avoided bringing it up. It was my challenge to stay in the group until I finished my mission. Apparently, I couldn't succeed. I thought I had posted something innocent. Thinking people would back me up on this. After all, they are all travellers and they could be in my shoes any time. I got reactions I'd never have expected from such a group. It opened up the Pandora's Box.
I was surprised at how people started attacking me and holding me responsible for something that was beyond my control. IATA rules provide for extraordinary circumstances and obviously this was obviously an extraordinary situation, being changed for only 5 days and going back to VOA.
People started pointing fingers at me, blaming me. Again... This is a travelling group, I thought they would all be backing me up on this. Because, duh! the same thing can happen to them any time! And it sure is not right that visas change on a whim without any prior notice.
I told them I had been refunded by the credit card because businesses are not supposed to charge for services the customer did not get. What's more, I was also rewarded the ticket fare by the Consumer Rights Court on the grounds that it was against the normal flow of life for me to know about a five day change in a visa scheme that had been going on for so long.
I also brought up the topic of how RyanAir had to look after its passengers and pay for their accommodation and food when the volcano in Iceland erupted and flights were cancelled. Even though I believe that in this case it goes to extreme, there is something called passenger rights.
Maurizio Giuliano started claiming Ryan Air did it because it wished to! Hahahaha! Ridiculousness of the claim! We are talking about an airline which tries to milk money from its passengers who do not comply with rules. Mind you, I like RyanAir, I support RyanAir, it has its rules and if you are proper you are rewarded for it. However, it certainly is not an airline that would dish out money to its passengers unless obliged to.
Then this douchebag Maurizio said "Did you try to solve your issue creatively? Apparently not. You just wanted to be victimised and have a fight with the airline and then seek our pity” and he went on about pregnant girls and how one girl in Kenya or some place in Africa got pregnant and was claiming that the government had to look after the child as they did not let her have an abortion.
I was like "Wohaaaa!"
How dare anyone make such a claim without knowing all the details?? How can anyone accuse me of “seeking pity” after I stated I have ALREADY been REFUNDED? Why should I appeal to anyone's pity? People really have no comprehension of someone wanting to do something for the overall good of people and for principles! Idiots!
And pregnant girls??? Now we are discussing legality of abortions and government interference in our lives in a travel group?? Wohaaa!!
But you see, I do not live attached to Facebook and by the time I saw those messages and was about to answer, the comments were turned off by Ric, the moderator.
At that point, I decided to leave the group. This, definitely, was not a place for me. I did not enjoy being attacked but I could have endured that; however, I could never accept my right to answer being taken away from me.
True, other posts were closed to comments before, but those were just bickerings about the way people travelled. So they went nowhere. Whereas here, I believed I had a right to defend myself and say a word or two to those imbeciles.
I wanted out of the group, that's for sure. But I didn't want to get out myself. As I said, for once, I didn't want to just walk out and leave.
Stefan had made a post after this issue talking about rules, restricting comments to three sentences bla bla... So I decided to answer that in a provocative way and make them remove me.
I, unfortunately, did not think of taking screenshots at that point, I was so pissed off. But here are my last posts to the group:
"With all due respect Stefan... I don't believe anything worthwhile can be discussed in three sentences. Apart from short specific information that is. If you want, please restrict all comments to three sentences and let's see how the 'quality' increases.
I know I am the one insinuated with long rants. I deem them to be well-thought out arguments but I'm aware most people have other opinions which they are, of course, entitled to. I believe most people do not have the capacity (or the desire) to read and more importantly try to understand what is written before responding. And that causes most of the troubles.
I also know this will be harsh but some people are so tiny that they cannot imagine someone wanting to do something for others. I really wonder how can anyone even think I am after my own interest when I have explicitly stated in the post that I have been refunded!
I believe this is a very important issue indeed, and concerns all travellers. We are still bound by contracts which talk about “In case of lost tickets”! Which age are we living in?
It's NOT ONLY ME, YOU ARE BOUND by these contracts too. But I see that people prefer to just cover themselves by insurances or eat it up. So be it.
Sure, I am selfish too. First, I want to cover my ass. But after I have done that, as I have done with passports and the Djibouti ticket, I want to cover other people's asses too.
I prefer to do the Smart Donkey... but in this case it is not so easy and I need people like you. I see nobody is interested. There are 269 likes on my website on that post. All came from here. Still... Putting a “like” is the laziest and lamest passive support. Just SPEAK UP and say you agree or something at least. Anyway... This is what I get from a group whose interests are concerned. May I be damned if I try to get anybody involved again!"
Petro had said: “I want to encourage you to go read the group rules on self promotion. This is your warning now.”
And my head had hit the ceiling at that too. That that woman with no brain (see above) was giving me a warning!!!
"I have many issues with this. Starting from the fact that there is no WARNING for people who talk about ABORTION for God's sake!
I will NOT take accusations of self-promotion. I'd have hoped that everybody in such an elite group would be able to see this by having a quick look at my website. Apparently not. So even though I loath to say the following, I'll need to spell it out for some people to understand.
I have done three round-the-world tours, one by land, one by sea, one with my family. I met my Italian husband on my second rtw tour. I have a very romantic story to which I can add some really sensational details like starting the trip running away from a marriage where a gun had been taken out, ending the trip I started solo as three, a man by my side and a baby in my womb. I did the third around the world in 99 Days returning on my daughter's 4th birthday. So... If anybody does not see it and I need to state it: If I wanted to self-promote, I'd have easily been a celebrity definitely in Turkey and in Italy too. I did NOT take that road.
Perhaps I should have. If I had spent my energies on finishing that world tour book instead of concentrating on the stupid things travel entails, movement around the world we were all born, I might have been somewhere by now. Then, people might have taken me seriously or listened to me.
I have hundreds of pages, almost all on different aspects of freedom of movement; articles on other related issues connect to the right of free movement, other issues are all related to philosophical essays on world politics. Nobody would go to such great lengths to write about this stuff if s/he did not really care about it. If I chose to spend my labor on this, it shows where my priorities and loyalties lie.
Nobody would write all these hundreds of articles, spend so much time and effort on these matters just to self-promote. That would be a ridiculously laughable claim. It's obvious that the way of self-promotion for me would have been emphasizing my travels and life. That's where the glamour is. Where all the glory and fame is. Okay, let's not call it fame but all the praise is. I'd have had many fans if I took that road.
Where I stand is lonely.
If I'm promoting anything, I am only promoting ideas. And they are all travel related ideas. If you wish, feel free to update your rules as “No idea-promotion either.”
This brings me to other rules that are missing in your rules:
* What about knowing your place?
Again from Petro: “Please focus on your travels more than your personal views.”
I don't know about you but I do not take orders, even if they come with a please in front of it, from nobodies in my life and no authorities on anything. That right/privilege/entitlement is only reserved to my mother, husband and a few of my trusted friends. I could have taken it as a parently suggestion if it was somebody elder or if it was said with a different tone, but I consider that insolence. Especially coming from someone who is two decades younger than me, a novice traveller, not to mention someone who admittedly is on drugs and has mental issues. Sorry, I wouldn't have liked to bring this up, not to make anyone's situation worse, but seriously, this is crossing the line. You may not like or agree with my views, but I came to this after so much experience, reading, thinking and writing, so they deserve some respect at least.
My travels and my personal views on travel are INSEPARABLE, they make up an integrated whole. My travels made me who I am today. I was a “normal” person not questioning much and taking things the way they are as granted at the beginning of my second round-the-world tour ten years ago.
Ah, sure. You'll be saying there are rules in this group and I need to respect them. If you believe I'm breaking the rules, please feel free to remove me. As I said, I am not leaving myself, but I sure vote for my expulsion! ;)
* Whatever I shared here are at least all related to travel, visa stories, or airport security searches. I believe this should be a part of the general discussion in such a group. At least once. Just to get a general view.
Even if not... Where is the WARNING to people talking about ABORTION for God's sake!? Where is it?
Please... Please... Take responsibility and show some proper standards when applying rules. The place is full of people criticizing other people's way of travel even after that rule was put in. There is only one general “reminder” for everybody, no singling out or no blocking or removing such comments. If you expect respect for your rules or yourself as rulers, you should at least be fair and consistent in application, not have double-standards.
* Same goes for Cassie... Being civil and fair should be applied for every person even if we do not like them personally. So let me come to the next issues:
* I think one of the most important rules that is missing here would people being obliged to act like adults and say sorry when they make a false accusation/claim. Just think how different the conversation had been if people had said:
“Yes, you are right. I said 'documented means an authority has written and documented your travels. Which is the case for other females', but no, they don't actually have documentation.”
“Sorry for attacking you about the chargeback without knowing anything about the process.”
“Sorry for the Ryan Air assertion” etc. Just think... Just think of what a better place the world would be if people were mature enough to admit their mistakes and knew how to say sorry.
* Or of course it's even better not to speak or not to attack people without knowing things in the first place.
* The previous closed threads related to ways of travel arguments, but in the case of Djibouti, I have an issue... Okay, so you close topics to comments... What happens to the people who have been accused and attacked? So you feel it's right and okay for you to take away their right to answer? Where in the world do you see that happen? Yes, in autocratic countries. So this is an autocratic group? Can be huh, I'm not saying it shouldn't be. But I seriously think that it is really easy for people bothered NOT to read a thread. On the contrary, it takes effort to follow it up. So why do people go, follow something that bothers them and ask for the discussion to be closed? This is a real innocent question by the way, because it's seriously beyond my comprehension.
What about informing people of the posts you delete and the reasons for your deletion? Because my totally valid and related posts have been deleted and I do not take kindly to that kind of censor either. And the most ironical part that gives me a good laugh it is under a thread where the admin says “I could have just turned off comments for this post and been done with it. I’m allowing people to speak their mind freely. I don’t believe in removing posts or comments unless absolutely necessary. I prefer complete and transparent accountability.”
So I'd like to know what was it that made my post ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to remove?
You have removed my posts. I believe I have given you enough reason to remove me from here too.
Happy and safe travels everyone."
Deletion, Removal and Banning
Then, as expected and hoped for, I was removed. By, I believe, Petro.
It was a relief.
However, I had not expected, that is, not considered one thing: That Petro would be deleting my posts too.
So she did not let anyone get a chance to even see and read them. You see, contrary to Stefan and Ric, Petro is always on FB and on the watch.
I was sort of upset at this but relieved that it was over.
I was wrong! This was only the start of another episode of blame and shame.
This is the beginning piece of a seven article series on the EPS- Every Passport Stamp Facebook group and Counting Countries podcast. The following episodes are:
Asked to Come Back
A Call to Ric Gazarian's Patrons
Threats and Controversy
A Podcast Gone Wrong
Tantrums and Rants