Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reality TV: A social experiment

Back on my soapbox and my concerns for the future, today's topic is reality tv.

Now hold on, my dearies. I have not gone all righteous on you and abandoned my own personal love for this genre. In fact, if viewer's choice awards were reversed and the shows got to vote on their favorite viewers instead, I like to think I would at least get an honorable mention from a handful of the slimiest reality shows. In fact, I once earned a gift card from VH1 for sharing my opinions about the shows I Love Money and Rock of Love. Little did they know I went and spent it on real, live books! Oh, the irony.

So now that I have stated for the record that I flat out adore reality tv and find even the people who should be receiving substance treatment on Jersey Shore to be heroes in my quest for escapism by Thursday night, I would like to express some of my fears for the future generation. I admit that as a thirtysomething professional with advanced education and a life dedicated to eradicating violence in intimate relationships, I have actually used some of the catch phrases from the creme de la creme of reality shows to try to start a fight. Having seen a lot of fight scenes and heard the language used to escalate them, it all started to sound normal in my head. Thankfully, on these shows, post-fight, everyone goes back to being friends and such is the ending to my tale, too. My point is that if it could sink into my head, what is it doing to teens who don't know what life before dating competition shows was like?

To expand, I'm slightly less familiar with all of the "extreme" kinds of shows but, of course, have seen a few here and there. How do these looks at the private lives of strangers impact still forming minds? Will my niece or nephew become hoarders? Or extreme couponers? Or will the world watch as they struggle to lose weight? While it's great to break down barriers of shame, certain behaviors that people in the past may have kept under wraps are now being glorified. I love Teen Mom (sorry) and I've lost more than a few hours to Storage Wars but with the distance of adulthood, I watch in awe that people put themselves out there, not with any assumption of normalcy.

It IS really interesting to get to see how other people live and think, sure. But combine this voyeurism with the public chronicling of Facebook (from yesterday's rant) and how do kids today learn about boundaries?? How do they know what is private? Sacred? What is worth looking at just to see and not to take a picture of to post online? As the national treasure Betty White said when she hosted SNL, 30 years ago when someone wanted to show you a slideshow of their vacation, you groaned whereas now we look at other people's pictures without even letting them know we have done so.

What a funny world we live in, right?

Monday, January 30, 2012

You probably shouldn't read this

I always have an excuse for not writing more frequently. Today's is that I believe I'm coming down with a mild form of social Tourette's syndrome. More and more lately I seem to say or do, impulsively, the most inappropriate things. Of course I mean no offense when these incidents occur but they leave me turning them over in my head for days, wondering if my audience clung to how wrong what I did or said was as much as I am. Honestly, I just thought of giving you an example and I was too mortified to even 'fess up.

This extends to the written word. I have probably already offended you and for that, I am sorry. The things I feel most compelled to expound upon lately are definitely things that should not be written down and made public. They are the kinds of things you might not even talk to your best friends about unless you were trying to make them laugh at you. Toilet humor has taken custody of my brain.

Whenever this happens and all I can think about is how I could wax eloquent about what happens in the bathroom or something of the like, I think about Facebook. Reasonable jump? I think so. Here's why: with no intended offense (but, as mentioned, that's probably a moot point by now) to all the wonderful parents out there, when you post about your child potty training couldn't you change the settings to only share with your family and immediate circle? What is this generation of children going to be like, having their every intimate move documented for the world without their consent? This is a legitimate concern of mine. I am truly curious about the long term sociological impact of social media on youth. As adults, we have some level of choice and consent regarding the information we share but kids, either the ones whose parents are posting about their uti's or the ones who have grown up not knowing any differently, are going to have an extremely different social development that any other generation. In a lot of ways I'm sure this is great and these kids will be way smarter and all. But they may also end up in with some funky social fallout. All I can think of is that they might end up in adult diapers. I think that's another example of my problem, manifesting itself.

So anyway, that's my rant for today. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tragedy at Sea

I would be totally remiss if I didn't comment on the still unfolding tragedy of the cruise ship in Italy. Problem is I don't know what to say! How do you begin to capture the horror of what that experience must have been like for the passengers? And how do you wrap your head around the totally unnecessary actions of the captain that caused the accident? Of course, we can't even get started on his response to all of it! I feel for all of the families of those still missing. It's just so terribly wrong to be taking a vacation, a break from how hard life can be, and then experience something far worse.

Last night on the news they posed the question of how this will impact people's decisions to cruise or not cruise in the future. For anyone who had fear before, I'm sure this seals the deal. Other people made the valid point that there are car accidents all the time that don't scare us too much to ever drive again. And even though plane crashes are rare, they are more common that what we are seeing happen with this cruise ship but people still fly, albeit most of us with a healthy dose of anxiety. On the flip side of the coin, I'm already noticing deals on cruises popping up in response.

As someone who has cruised multiple times in the past, I know I will cruise again. I feel safe on board. Maybe too safe, to be honest. I recently heard of a sexual assault that allegedly happened onboard a cruise line and was flabbergasted that I had not even thought of such a thing happening, even though in my daily life and work I think about those things all the time. I believe this horrible incident is the result of one person or a small number of people in positions of power using terrible judgement. Therefore, I put faith and hope in the fact that it would be unlikely. And so I could cruise again.

I'd love to hear other people's opinions. I don't know how to overstate the deep sadness and empathy for the fear and loss involved in this, first and foremost. But it's a normal human experience to think of how this will impact us or the travel experience, in general. In the meantime, let's all pray that some of the missing are tucked snugly in emergency blankets on a beautiful coastline without phone access.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Blogaversary!

Last year over this weekend I started my blog. I once read somewhere that most blogs don't last through the first six months so I am happy to still be typing away! While I'm still not always sure of the balance between what I want to write vs what someone might want to read but this blog makes me happy and that counts for something.

Because lists trump all, here are some things I have learned in this first year of blogging:

1. Most of the time when I come home from a trip, I don't know how or want to say more than " it was good" when people ask. Similarly, it's actually really hard for me to write about all the amazing experiences until a good amount of time has passed.

2. I have been stunned by how judgemental people are about travel. Blogging is one of the only outlets that seems socially acceptable to talk about where I've gone and what I've done. That's just not right.

3. It's been interesting to note how much I feel like I have to censor myself while blogging. So many experiences that impact me involve other people who may read things about themselves they wouldn't love. So I choose not to write about those things. But it's a shame because those are the stories that are the most fun to tell!

4. Usually, living life is so fun that I forget to document it.

5. I LOVE reading the blog stats and seeing that people from all over the world have read my words. I really wonder how they find me, why they read me, and what they think. It makes me want to sing "It's a Small World After All".

6. A lot of the things that I want to write about have nothing to do with travel or being domestic at home. But they don't fall into one "other" category either. Conversations with friends are the best source of inspiration.

7. The past year has been awesome. Sometimes writing about it helps solidify my gratitude for the options I have in life. And I'm extremely grateful for everyone who takes time to read this blog. I especially love to read your comments. It's a blessing to be able to write and communicate with the world. I hope the next year of blogging will teach me even more!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ode to 2011: 11 Events that defined my 2011

So I'm a week late with my farewell salute to 2011.....well, I'm late in actually posting it. As part of my job I run a Speaker's Bureau and we met on Thursday night. My coworker provided a writing prompt that helped me to reflect on what I wanted to say to summarize the year. It was a take on something that had been posted somewhere else onlline that highlighted the 11 events that defined 2011. I decided to make my own top 11 events of the year.

1. Glaciar Hike in Iceland.

2. Flamenco Show in Seville, Spain
3. My first trip to classic Europe.

4. Traveling with my parents for my mother's first trip out of the country to Bermuda.

5. Swimming with the Dolphins.

6. Canyoning in Costa Rica.

7. Seeing the Tower of London after all my reading about it.

8. Hiking Rio Celeste.

9. The New Kids on the Block Concert at Fenway Park.

10. Accidentally biking 72 miles on the Cape Cod rail trail and beyond.

11. Making my first from scratch apple pie to be served at Thanksgiving dinner.

Ultimately, 2011 was a huge year for me. I got to travel for 6 weeks out of the year and see some truly awe inspiring sights and, more importantly, have some life changing experiences with people I love. It will be a year I never forget. Can't wait to see what 2012 will bring....