Back in the 90s I used to travel a lot for no other reason than it was something that was interesting and brought pleasure. I had some fancies, like most people, of being a travel writer, but for years it was a nebulous aspiration. In 2000 I sold my first travel article to Islands magazine, and after that every time I set foot in a new place I viewed it via the lens of a potential story, and each new place was never quite the same again: in short, something was lost when the experience was funneled towards a specific outcome.
Those were largely pre-Internet days, and far fewer people had aspirations to fame. These days a less curated process happens with experience shared online not just to friends and family but to as many followers as one is shameless enough to generate. Further still, many are now so commercially minded that every scrap of craft, hobby or pastime is viewed as a potential business venture: Etsy, MeetUp, start-up incubators. There seems to be less and less that we just do, end of story. If the experience of others shares any commonality with my own that means all those folks are deriving gradually less pleasure out of their activities.
Lately I’ve been thinking about whether there is a qualitative difference to actions we do not broadcast. Indeed, maybe there is something truly epic in this current climate when a significant activity goes consciously unreported.
Furthermore, given the capitalist machine that underpins our channels of broadcast and the economics of (faux-)fame, a retreat into the self (where activities are measured solely upon whether they are genuinely satisfying) is an act of resistance. Imagine how the world would look if, en masse, we started to measure activity on such terms instead of supporting our roles as bit-part actors in a mostly fabricated drama. It would swiftly result in a precipitous drop in bullshit in its multiple forms and open up a much-needed thinking space to imagine what would almost certainly be more useful ways to live.