One thing I definitely struggled with during the in-class discussion on Wednesday was defining the core message of my final essay. After all, I tend to view many things in shades of gray, rather than black and white. For this reason, can I say that technology should be avoided while traveling for the sake of experience? Or should I go the opposite direction, saying that technology should be used as much as possible to facilitate the experience? Like everything else, my true beliefs lie somewhere in the middle, because there are benefits and disadvantages to both sides. For this reason, I believe that the core message for my final paper is “Awareness”. It’s okay to rely on technology for some things and eschew it for other things, but we need to be aware of the choices we make and their consequences. For example, when traveling it is very easy to take the simplest option and catch a cab from the airport to the hotel. In fact, for many people this may be the best option while burdened down with luggage. However, it may be better for others to take public transportation – it’s not quite as simple, but it gives you the first glimpse of life in the city you are in, the first hesitant steps into a new ocean of culture.
Exploring this message, for me at least, is relatively simple. I want to make the reader think about their past experiences, and to make them start asking themselves questions. For example: “What will I want 5 years from now, the picture of the whale taken with a crappy cell phone camera, or the memory of watching the animal in motion, taking in the experience of watching it thrive it its natural environment?” This was a question I asked myself when I was in Alaska, watching the hoards of people lining up with cameras off the side of the ship, hoping to get the “shot”. These questions are what help me to explore my theme, because even outside of travel, nearly everyone has experienced a situation in which either they or someone they were with was too preoccupied with documentation than with experiencing.
Of course, I want the reader to explore the positive effects of technology awareness as well. For example, I view Airbnb as a newer travel technology that is almost overwhelmingly positive. It can easily connect travelers with locals and give them a “truer” experience. In this case of technology bring positive experiences, I believe that awareness is necessary in order to find opportunities similar to Airbnb. Many people aren’t aware of its existence, and may simply “default” to choosing the hotel where you return every night to a generic experience that can be replicated in your own backyard. Along this vein, there are probably even better ways to connect with the place you are visiting that are even better than Airbnb or couchsurfing – I just haven’t had the opportunity to discover them yet.
Overall, to me my paper’s purpose is to make people question their experiences, and to make them consider how their current methods can change to experience places more deeply, and avoid the technology black hole, while still accessing its good points that can improve connection.