Are you becoming more afraid to travel? Believe it or not, that little gadget in your hand may be the thing that is most responsible for that uncertainty that exists in all of us. It’s no surprise to anyone that terrorism is on the rise. That’s a fact. But how much of our fear exists due to the constant bombardment we receive from our many media relationships? We have become a population of paranoid travelers and it’s completely understandable. The very thing that keeps us connected also keeps us on edge.
Believe it or not there was time when the news was delivered to you in a nice 30-minute edition all wrapped up in a bow, add in another 30 minutes for your local news, and that was it. Think the term “Good ole Days” is cliché? In this instance it is not only correct but desired. As we know, that is no longer the case as we are force-fed a never-ending stream of updates, headlines and alerts. We have been conditioned to know all things at all times. It’s a gift that can be informative, of course, but also one that can be detrimental to a traveler.
Other than planning a trip to the Middle East, factoring in the possibility of terrorism to any other location was never a consideration. Now, seemingly every place you identify on your go-to list has that element of uncertainty. That uncertainty has made a tremendous impact on the travel industry, especially in the packaged trips sector in places such as Europe. According to this mid year’s NBC news report, hotels across Europe have slashed their prices by 20%. Wonder why you keep getting those low-ball Europe fares over the last year or so?
Would you be surprised to find out that there are far less terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe than say…the 70’s and 80’s? The answer is unbelievably, yes! According to the Global Terrorism Database, there has been a significant drop in these events. So you next question is inevitably why we worry so much? There’s countless theories on this but besides the obvious “ingrained in your mind 9/11 events”, we simply know too much. As mentioned above, if you happened to be watching the news in the 70’s and 80’s, chances are slim that you would receive every iota of newsworthy headlines in that small amount of time.
Now, time doesn’t deter our cravings for news. If there’s something to know, you know it. Whether it’s in Detroit, Paris or even small city, USA you know it. That kind of information overload can create a feeling of vulnerability in all of us. What has become more commonplace is the so-called “grand terrorism attacks”. These attacks are designed to bring attention such as popular public places or events of magnitude.
The ability to record these events and knowing that each one of us has a camera in our pocket means that the intended audience will help propagate the terrorists’ message. Never before have we been able to not only hear about an attack, but share in the grief through the eyes of someone who was there. It’s these events that tend to affect travelers the most because they impact the very locations or events that influenced you to make travel plans there in the first place. Fear becomes the ultimate enemy at that point.
The big question is what can be done to combat these fears. The answer is different for everyone but I actually put myself to the test in October of 2015. Out of the blue I stopped watching the news, most of my alerts were disabled and I read only the sports page in the newspaper. For 9 months I was ignorant. Ok, may have been ignorant already but ignorant on purpose let’s say. Only the election brought me back into news because I needed to be informed of my choices. (Not sure if that was time well spent, but anyways)
Much like you would expect my outlook on life increased and my views of the world overall were quite positive. Even though I knew that things were happening around me, the fact that I never indulged myself with the details kept my mind from reliving these instances. I was truly uninformed, and it may have been the best 9 months I’ve ever had. The simple task of turning off my news feeds gave me a sense of peace and alerted me to the realization of how much of the world’s news influenced my own day to-day living and mood swings.
Fast forward to today where I have begun to shut down the alerts and news feeds again and with great delight I might add. I don’t go out of my way to shield myself from the news of the world, I simply stopped actively pursuing it. My own experience is merely that, my own. Maybe it’s an experiment you’d pursue to simply see what happens. I’ve heard the same result from those who step away from their Facebook accounts for a short while. Whatever the case, some of our biggest fears can be found in the very thing that we can’t seem to do without, our phones. Surprisingly, a change to my settings changed my views and my attitude.
My challenge to readers is to disconnect just a little. There comes a time in everyone’s life when we simply know too much. For many, knowing too much can keep us from living out our dreams and for us travelers, dreams keep us going. There is one certainty in the world and we all know what it is, but there’s no reason to go through our days dreading it. Ignorance can be bliss and bliss is hard to come by it seems these days.