Is it Selfish to Blog About Travel When Things are Shitty in The World?

Posted on
Jun 3, 2013

I’ve been having a lot of trouble blogging lately. It’s something I’ve been trying to ignore – throwing up a post here and there, attempting to make them funny and light when frankly, my heart just hasn’t been in it.

I originally started this blog for Rand. Having been cursed since birth to roam the world with the memory of a goldfish, he has only vague recollections of many of our trips. Time and again he’ll start recounting a story, and I’ll have to fill in the gaps.

And holy cats, there are a lot of gaps.

“Remember that time,” he’ll say. “When we were at that place, with those people, and that thing happened? Wasn’t that just something?”

I am being only slightly hyperbolic here. He will actually say things like this, after which I’ll ask him a few questions (“What did the people look like?” “Was the place indoors or out? Cold or warm? Actually visited by the two of us or completely invented by you?”) and piece together what he’s talking about.

“I blogged about that, babe,” I’ll say, and gently direct him to a post that explains in detail what happened that one time with those people. And it was just something.

Nobody freak out: the blog still serves that original purpose. Rand and I are happy and fine together, and I still write with him in mind. I mean, how could I not want to get up every morning and write about this guy:

I have no idea what’s going on here, but I’m pretty sure it’s magic.

But now my sphere of readership is much bigger; this isn’t really something I anticipated, and while I’m grateful for it, it also scares the crap out of me. A recent scathing comment on the blog (in which I was told, in succinct and indelicate terms, that I prattle on about the same nonsense and it is “just sad.”) had me questioning a lot of things. And while I’m sure the hater’s comment was not designed to actually make me think (because hateful comments rarely have that goal), it did indeed make me wonder: is it selfish to write a travel blog when so many terrible things are happening around the world?

Yesterday a friend was telling me about the factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,000 people, mostly women and children. I managed to miss this story entirely when it was at the front of the newscycle. Another friend of mine, who recently moved to Oklahoma, is constantly updating her Facebook with tales of tornado warnings (often with news that yes, she’s alive and well, and hiding in her closet). Still another describes the scenes outside the window of her apartment in Turkey – riots and screaming, police pushing protesters back, trying to disperse the crowd.

While I complain about the price of food at the gorgeous resort we’ve just visited.

I want to keep writing, but it seems insensitive and out of touch and entirely douchey to warble on about my travels in the wake of all of this. I’m having a lot of difficulty on that front. Food blogs make more sense to me, even in difficult times. Food is a source of comfort. When things get rough, people still need to eat, right?

But what about travel blogs? What role do they play when things are shitty? Do they distract? Enlighten? Remind us that we aren’t alone, and that we’d better try to make the world a better place for everyone else?

Does my blog do that?

I honestly don’t know. I’d like to think that it does. But it’s hard not to feel self-absorbed and petty and privileged at times like this. I think about my original goal – of writing this blog for Rand, and while that brings a bit of perspective to all of it, it also makes me wonder if I am causing more harm than good. My husband was recently skewered online. I will say only that the discussion was full of a crapload of half truths, but as the discussion in the comments reached a fever pitch, one person left the following remark:

“He even gave his wife a brain tumor.”

I don’t know what to do with that. My intent, in revealing so much of my self and our lives online was never to have it be turned against him. And for the record, even though he lets me play with broken thermometers and he put a giant old microwave in my office which keeps me warm on cold nights*, I’m pretty sure Rand didn’t give me a brain tumor.

I’m not sure if I have any answers here. I’m just trying to figure out how to be honest with myself, and with all of you. I’m trying to figure out how to keep blogging, when it seems like I should be doing so, so much more.

I’d love your thoughts on the issue.

*Oh, and Rand didn’t actually do this stuff. In case you were wondering.

UPDATE: Wowzers, guys. I’m completely humbled and honored and rendered kind of speechless by your replies. Thank you all so much – I didn’t mean that I was going to quit blogging right this second or anything. 🙂 I was just, as Rand put it, having a crisis of faith, and feeling really guilty that I can go about my day blogging and writing about my privileged life when a lot of people out there are going through a lot of crap.

Bottom line: I might be switching some things up a little in the future. But I promise that whatever I do, I’ll keep blogging, okay?

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