Friday, May 1, 2009

Pop Trotters

We live in a hugely mobile culture. People today have the ability to fulfill the desire to see the world more than ever before, and they are taking advantage of it. There is almost nowhere in the world that cannot be reached within a 24 hour period for a reasonable price, considering the feat that is being paid for. How rich a life we are presented with!

And yet, going places and experiencing world culture is not the same thing. Some times it seems as though the American traveler of today is simply a “pop-trotter.” They are interested in being able to say they have been here and there, but not interested in the actual being there. Perhaps they are not quite as bad off as the stereotypical oriental tourist; those that drive from site to site and hop out of the tour bus just long enough to snap a picture to be viewed and experienced later. The American tourist disorder is another one:

Witness the Starbucks mug collector. They have traveled to city after city, all around the world. Have they experienced the cultures of these cities? Do they know the unique ways that people in these cities eat or interact? Who knows? All you know for sure is that they have been to the Starbucks in each place they have been. Why bother? You know that every one you visit, anywhere in the world is essentially the same. Starbucks, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Coke, Hard Rock, etc. etc.

Not to say that these places are bad or wrong; they are successful for a reason. It is just frustrating that an exported brand name is the destination everywhere the modern tourist goes instead of seeking out the unique interpretations of culture every country has to offer. Or maybe this is simply the frustration of a world traveler with four little kids.

At least you know who to ask when looking for a McDonalds anywhere in Europe.

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