Politics and travel Blogs: A Toxic Mix?

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March 1st marks the first year Blogiversary of “Globetrotting Grandpa”. To celebrate this milestone, I am rerunning some of the most popular posts of the last year based on your likes, comments, and views. Hope you enjoy them. GG.

“Ideally, travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. Suddenly, the palette with which we paint the story of our lives has more colors.”
Rick Steves “Travel as a Political Act”

I am a firm believer in the power of travel to change minds and lives. I have experienced it myself many times. These changes have also profoundly affected how I see the world. I have also had many spirited debates in hostels with people all over the world about the politically hot topic of the day. So I know that travel and politics can coexist. But Travel blogging and politics? Well on that one, I am not so sure. So far, and quite possibly forever onward I have not really discussed my own personal worldview on this blog. That has been by design. I want Globetrottinggranpa.com to be a place where everyone can read about travel (and sometimes health/fitness and poetry) without political input and regardless of their own personal views. But if I am honest, I am somewhat torn between wanting to create a politically free zone (and not alienating my readers at a time I am trying to build my blog) and being true to myself. Anyone who is a friend with me on my personal Facebook page already knows my zeitgeist since I am pretty politically outspoken there. Also if you ever meet me in person and we have more than a cursory conversation you will be able to pick up on my leanings pretty darn quick. But here on this page. I’m not so sure, so I thought I would present the Pro and Con of opening up this page to occasional political content.

Cons

Politics are pretty divisive with very little to be gained by discussing it. If you see the world differently than I do. I am not so presumptuous to think I am going to change your mind.  And quite frankly, I don’t really even want to. I figure you have come to your views honestly, and that your life’s experiences, cultural and perhaps religious background have colored how you see the world the same as it has me. If I were in your shoes, maybe I would see things precisely the same way.

Rick Steves is someone I admire. He is a pioneer if the travel and travel blogging arena. Steves also has never shied away from stating how he feels politically. Every time he posts something political on Facebook he has several hundred people who angrily ‘unfriend’ him. He has over 536K followers on Facebook so he can afford to take the hit. If I had several hundred people ‘unfriend’ me or stop following this blog. I would be in a deficit.

It’s also not really what this blog is about. I love a debate and lively discussion, even if you don’t view things like I do (maybe even especially if you don’t see things like I do) but at least in my home country of the USA in the last few years, political discussions have seemed to have lost their civility. People get personal and often say things they regret later (or at least should). Lots of feelings get hurt. I want this to be a place above the rabble. Besides, I am a firm enough believer in the power of travel to change minds in a much more persuasive way than I ever could. to quote Mark Twain (one of my favorite writers)

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
– Mark Twain

Sorry, that is so big. But it is a Big Idea. And my computer cut and paste thingy are messed up.  Travel is a much better teacher than I can ever be. I figure if people get out and see the world, it will change them for the better, and that is beyond politics.

Pros:

To thine own self be true. I feel some things very strongly. Things are going on it the world that makes me want to yell “Hold! Enough!”.  Part of me feels like if this blog is to become successful, I will have to not worry about what everyone thinks, and realize that along the way people might take umbrage and peel off. I can’t be all things to all people. I must have my own unique voice, love me or hate me.

There are several very successful writers and bloggers in the travel field who are quite outspoken, Rick Steves, there’s a lady named Adventurous Kate who has a blog  I just love who has always been very clear about her political views, even Anthony Bourdain was never shy when expressing his views political and otherwise. It takes a particular strength to say “this is me, loves me or hates me, I don’t care.” Right now, I just want to build a blog. But it won’t fly if people who read my posts feel like I am insincere or obsequious. This is my blog, and it needs to be my voice.  My real voice.

For now and the indefinite future (isn’t the future always indefinite?) I will continue to just focus on upbeat travel with a decidedly human interest/pop culture bent and keep the political commentary to my personal Facebook page, BUT when I travel if I see or learn something that I feel in my heart is unjust, I will not be able to avoid discussing it here. I am primarily a self-deputized reporter, and my “beat” is travel, so if it affects my brief, then I have no choice but to express it and most likely at a high volume. I can not do otherwise.

Originally posted on Globetrotting Grandpa 06/15/18

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Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

 

9 Replies to “Politics and travel Blogs: A Toxic Mix?”

  1. A great and honest entry, as always. I feel very similarly in the sense that I want my online space to not be contaminated by political polarisations but inevitably, if politics/ religion plays a significant role in our life experiences, then our authenticity will reveal our affiliations. I still believe it’s possible that a discussion on travel and politics do not have to be mutually exclusive and it’s possible to express both without offending anyone.

    Like

    1. Thank you. I originally wrote this post last summer. Since then there have been a few posts where I Lind of let my guard down a bit. I didn’t get any negative feedback, but if someone just quit following me, I probably wouldn’t have any way of knowing that. It really isn’t the politics per se, as it is creating conflict. I’d love civil dialogue evn if it was someone telling me I was full of it, provided they did so respectfully and avoided ad hominem attacks. I hope to find that balance eventually. Certainly, I would do the same. I don’t want to attack anyone even if I do think their views are out of synch with reality 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My blog mixes travel and a bit of politics. I think it depends on your readers. If they are open to debate or not. But, I agree politics is always a controversial thing. That being said I hold two Masters in Political Studies and so I can’t avoid talking politics. Maybe you should ask your readers if they would be interested in content which touches on politics?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve seen to find the balance between the two. I think that much like the US, South Africa has a very interesting political landscape. Admittedly, I don’t know nearly enough about it though. When I finally get to visit your country and if we get to have that cup of coffee, I would love to discuss politics with you. I originally wtote that blog last simmer, since then i have become more confident in expressing my views here, but still feel like it is more like salt and pepper than a main course. But in a perfect world i would be as outspoken politically on my blog as I am on my personal facebook page. Oh well, baby steps I suppose. By the way, I would love to have you do a guest blog on my page. I haven’t been to South Africa myself so it would be a different perspective. Plus, I really admire your writing. I would also be willing to reciprocate if you wanted, but that would be totally up to you. Think it over. No hard feelings if you decline and I’ll still be a fan either way. but something to ponder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When we have that coffee I’d be more than happy to discuss politics with you. I also follow US politics closely. The country seems very divided at the moment. Though I know the media really blows things up. My US friends are all democrats so I tend to hear only side of the story from people I know. And I would certainly love to write a guest blog for you. Having you guest blog on my page would be fantastic too. I’m in no need to think it over. Just let me know more. Thank you for offering to have me guest blog. Hope you have a good day.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I see. I think your natural diplomacy and genuineness will sort of find that balance quite easily. From some of your posts I feel I already sense where your leanings lie and it always seems to come from just a more ‘humane’ perspective respectfully articulated. Good luck to you and all of us in navigating this minefield these days!

    Liked by 1 person

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