The Fine Line Between Bragging and Inspiring

Some of you might have read the post and comments by Mike Barish over on Gadling, some of you might not have read it yet and some of you might not care. It seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of people and a debate has been raging in the comments. Then there’s this post by Alisha from SoSauce which also seemed to strike a nerve with people.

To summarize, Mike mentioned that he was beginning to get annoyed with long-term travellers and his perception that many have begun to belittle the folks who live so called stable lives with a full time job and everything that comes with it. The issue that has brought on most of the debate is that he linked to this article written by Nomadic Matt and singled him out as being ‘condescending at best and offensive at worst’ based on Matt’s article. I do feel like there’s a trend among lifestyle designer types (who often seem to live abroad) to slam people with ‘typical’ nine to five lives and I really hate that too. I think, though, that many of these people are aiming their possibly condescending posts at those who are living a life they’re unhappy in or working in a career they want to break free from. They’re trying to be inspiring but sometimes come across as being smug and judgmental.

Alisha’s post is more about travel writers (bloggers) specifically, pointing out some of their good and bad points based on her own experiences. The bad: they’re rude, egotistical and judgmental. Lots of juicy points! I haven’t been to any travel blogger conferences and the few ‘big name’ travel bloggers I’ve met in person have been amazing people (especially Dave and Audrey and Dan) so I don’t really have much to add to the conversation. There are know-it-all arseholes in every crowd and I like that Alisha has pointed out that maybe the travel blogging community isn’t as lovey dovey as it appears to be on the surface.

I was especially interested in the comments that Mike’s post generated, though. Loads of people have slammed us longer term travellers, questioning how me manage it financially (trust fund?), wondering what’s so good about it anyways, implying it’s not a ‘grown up’ way to live, that we don’t have anything else of meaning to be involved in or that we’re running away from real life. People seem to be defending their own choice of travelling in a different way or choosing not to travel at all by ripping on those of us who like to do it this way which seems like a strange approach.

These posts have caused me to think about when trying to offer inspiration to people crosses the line into outright bragging or being smug? Especially this comment by a guy called Spencer:

I’ve observed what I think is a change over the last few months where traveling and writing about it has become a lot more about who ranks where, who makes the most money traveling and writing about it, who gets the most hits … who has the most retweets and followers and blah, blah, blah.

I’m pretty conscious about this lately as I continue to post my earnings and as they continue to rise. Back when I was making $1000 a month, a wage that wouldn’t allow me to hack it in very many places, I wasn’t too concerned that I would be perceived as a show-off. As my earnings rise, my intentions are still the same but I wonder if they still come through in the same way. Plus my how to earn online blog has evolved more into a travel blog that it used to be and it probably attracts readers who aren’t necessarily as into the website-oriented stuff. I wonder what they think about my posts on the first of the month basically telling everyone how much (or little) money I’m making. Bragging or inspiring? Interesting or assholey?

I certainly wouldn’t call myself a travel writer and this blog has only really transformed into having a large number of travel-related posts recently. I do, however, love the travel blogging community and am happy to be a part of it. I’m also a web developer and I know the value in having a popular blog so I keep working at improving it and attracting more readers. I’m not sure whats really wrong with that. For some of us, this is a business and, for better or worse, we need to treat it that way to pay the bills.

In the end I think that @craventravel says it best (especially the first point):

After 30+ years in the travel industry, to 67 countries, 44 states, with 2 children and 1 wife, I have discovered:

1) People are more important than place.
2) Every destination has something special about it, even your home town.
3) Routine is the enemy, so wherever you are, mix things up.
4) There is no one “best” way to travel.
5) There is a lot more to a full life than just traveling.
6) No one on his deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time in the office”.

I would love to hear people’s comments on this topic! Is travel just one big pissing contest? Do you feel like long term travellers are snobby and judgmental? Am I a complete jerk? Fire away!

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