This weekend I quickly logged onto Twitter to see what’s what and was shocked to see some of the biggest names in travel blogging having a massive pissing match for all the world to see. There was name calling, accusations of abuse, attention whoring and generally showing a complete and utter lack of respect for each other.
This strikes me as the online travel blogging equivalent of two vice presidents screaming obscenities at each other from opposite sides of the building lobby. It's unprofessional. It's childish. And I'm not entirely sure what it is meant to accomplish.
"It’s a publicity stunt,"said Noah.
Absolutely. But publicity for what?
This particular shouting match centered on the #followmeatsea hashtag. In short, a small number of top travel and industry Twitterers have been invited onto a Princess Cruise. Great publicity for all involved. People tweet about their experiences on the cruise. Cruise lines advertise the twitterers. Nice exchange, right?
The other side of the debate goes as such.
First, that cruise ships bring too many people, too much waste and suck enormous resources from tiny islands. Idea being, cruises are generally bad for locals and the environment.
Second, there's doubt as to whether those tweeting will be entirely honest, being that they're being sponsored by the very group they're writing about. That would be the Twitter #twethics debate. Will sponsored journalists really report or are they just paid parrots?
There is much of value to discuss here, and in fact, you can find many people discussing these very things all over the internet.
Matador Network recently published an article by award winning travel writer David Page that discussed whether Freebies Undermine Honesty In Travel Writing with a fabulous many sided discussion in the comments that follow.
Another blog favorite of mine, Traveling Greener, offers endless topics on eco-travel along with resources for research to fuel a well informed debate. Traveling Greener's Twitter page provides even more information.
Yet I get this niggling feeling none of this weekend's shouting has to do with a desire for open discussion and debate. It seems to be more of a naked grab for attention.
This is a subject I’ve thought quite a bit about since
somehow becoming a travel blogger myself.
Writing about travel wasn’t’ something I set out to do but was really a logical conclusion to my being a writer with an internet and website design work history embarking on a three year journey.
I’ve often thought about what it would take to be a top, money-making travel blogger. Much of which I'm willing to do. I am willing to seek out and write what I believe to be superlative content. I enjoy making contact with other bloggers and do my best to publicize other’s great content through the travel blogging world.
What I have not been willing to do is engage in the endless debates across the internet when it seems that the main purpose of the debate is for self-promotion and does little to further community or real discussion. Unfortunately, too often, blog comments are just a sneaky way of saying "Hey, look at me! Leave this here blog and come see what amazing, wonderful things I'm doing on MINE!"
I also find myself frustrated when I spend time reading on other travel blogs, only to see the same small group of people commenting and discussing with each other, hawking their personal experiences as the end all and be all and creating controversy where there need be none.
Somewhere in there, the real issues drown and disappear.
I have absolutely no problem with readers sharing their experiences in comments on my blog or elsewhere. I welcome and relish it. Your comments allow me to stay in touch with what other writers, bloggers and readers are doing and thinking. I always appreciate a well placed comment that leads me to a valuable, necessary resource.
It’s a balance. We need people viewing our pages in order to have any real attention brought to the topics, causes and ideologies we want to support. But at what point does the balance shift toward selfish navel gazing?
Photo courtesy of rockmixer's Flickrstream