It is that time of the year when I force myself to come up with a post to show off that I've started this blog on this day back in 2014! The last post on this blog was a year ago talking about how it was 7th year of trablogger! So clearly it doesn't mean that I've been writing all these 8 years.
It just means that I've taken an action on this day, 8 years ago. But what an action that was! Definitely a life-changing one.
I can't clearly remember, but I believe it started out as an impulse after reading one of those self-help books between quitting my job and figuring out what was next. I didn't quit my job to travel and I did start traveling to write a blog. Over these years I have seen more and more people romanticizing quitting jobs to travel and how they are following their passion.
It is an amazing feeling to follow one's passion. Joseph Cambell who wrote about a Hero's Journey once said 'Follow your bliss.' Following one's bliss or passion is indeed one of the best things one can do with their life. In a Hero's journey, according to Joseph Cambell, after facing an obstacle and being forced to take action, a Hero goes on a journey and arrives at the destination after overcoming all the obstacles. Then he returns to tell the story.
The quest, the obstacles and the journey itself - they are all very noble and inspiring components of the story. But what is happening in the era of instant gratification is that, even on a spiritual quest one is forced to draw parallels from the materialistic world.
Have you ever noticed, how even the most spiritually enlightening book also has to add a line or two about being the '#1 best seller or over a million copies sold' line on the front? Even spirituality can't be sold without establishing some sort of social proof or proof of materialistic success metrics.
These very social proof and success metrics have somewhat corrupted many individuals' original intentions. In my case, my initial intention was to take my readers on a virtual photo walk through my photos and words. After a while I learned that I could write with SEO in mind, pick a super specific niche, and by doing so I could create a bigger audience and then tourism boards might want to give me free trips, brands might want to give me free stuff or money and my original intentions were corrupted. And I no longer enjoyed what I used to enjoy doing. I no longer was following my bliss. I was following shortcuts to rewards. When I realised that I kind of shut down.
But there are people still doing it and it is inspiring more and more people to do it and now it has become a norm. Having a shocking clickbait is considered to be normal nowadays. There are software to write highly converting headlines and titles. Heck, there are AI-powered bots to write the whole blog posts for you. If you want a human touch, you can even hire ghostwriters. A few months ago, someone offered me money to write their 'personal travel blog'.
Low barrier to entry coupled with the possibility of earning money and gaining fame has diluted the passion. All the so-called passions, may it be travel, cooking, reading, or drawing - all have become different branches of a big tree called content creation and content creation has become a business. So in truth, everyone's passion has changed from whatever it used to be to content creation.
Though I must thank those content creators who struggled, persisted, persevered and made it big. Because of all of your hard work, many new legit career paths have opened up. Many of the members of the conservative society who used to think professional titles were the way to create a better life, now started to encourage their kids to be aYouTuber, a blogger or a vlogger. When they start to see the trend that, you can make money and be famous at the same time, why not? Earlier only movie stars could do that. Now my son or daughter can do it too? Then why not? Some of them even went one step further and started including super seniors too, just to increase the entertainment value. But it has legitimately opened up new possibilities and opportunities.
But traveling is no longer for the sake of travel. It is part of content creation.
Going to the place any Tom, Dick and Harry can go is no longer appreciated. Doing normal things in the most remote places doesn't generate as much interest as before. Doing what everone else is doing isn't fashionable anymore. You need to do something different, something truly shocking to get people's ever-reducing attention span and people are willing to go any distance.
Let's bring a 98-year-old grandma who can't walk on a high-altitude hike. Let's drive an SUV through the most pristine lake ever. Let's dance on top of the most sacred spiritual symbols of some indigenous culture. Let's intrude and take selfies with the shyest people on earth. Creativity is endless.
Travelling is no longer for the sake of travel. It is part of creating sellable viral content.
I could possibly say thanks to my traveling days for shaping me into the person that I am now. Travel to me was mostly about troubleshooting and traveling in India on a low budget has given me plenty of trouble to shoot! It shaped me from someone who couldn't even go to a bank and fill out some forms to open an account all by himself to going to unknown places where unknown languages are spoken without a proper plan and being able to survive the experience. I feel sort of invincible going to a new city and figuring out their public transport system and getting from point A to point B in the cheapest way, just like a local. I feel like I've achieved something. That sense of accomplishment is what I seek when I travel. I don't necessarily have to share it with the world or document it to complete my experience. That experience itself is enough.
That is one reason I stopped writing here, stopped posting on Instagram and so on. Another reason is that I didn't want to be addicted to a system that controls you and lose all my control over the system. Waking up and scrolling through other people's lives, subconsciously comparing and being influenced by it, wasn't a habit I was looking forward to cultivating. So I simply stopped. And boy, I couldn't be happier.
And on this 8th year, should I go back to follow my bliss and restart taking the readers on a virtual photo walk? I'm still deciding. It will be good to revisit the original intentions though. I'll see how I feel in the coming days. In the meantime, thanks for reading.
PS: You could also read it as a rant from someone who couldn't monetise their blog 😉 You be the judge.