What To Write When Everything is Terrible

Richmond Virginia

Things are bad, I think we can at least all agree about that. I love reading dystopian fiction and I can’t help but think that recent world events all seem like the common backstory. Corrupt and heavy-handed leaders, a global pandemic, economic implosion, etc. But, let’s be optimistic for a moment and NOT presuppose that this is how the Hunger Games get started. Instead, today I want to start from the position that this is not how Western Civilization ends and what we can do in the coming weeks to not lose our collective minds and come out of this not only intact, but maybe also better humans.

Global travel blogging is on hold (Kinda)

From my point of view at least all of this happened fast, very fast. Two weeks ago I was on vacation in Walt Disney World and today I’m sorta kinda looking for a new career. So what happened during those 14 days? As it turns out, a lot. Many sectors within the travel industry exist on very thin profit margins, most notably the airlines. If there’s even a slight hiccup in their operations, it can lead to financial disaster. So I think we have to ask ourselves, what happens when the world’s largest industry – travel – just stops for a month or longer? Let me fast forward to the answer for you, nothing good. I think it’s inevitable that several tour operators and cruise lines will go bankrupt, I just don’t see how they can survive this. National airlines, like Royal Jordanian, will be supported ultimately by their governments. But that leaves airlines like United, American and so on without a lifeline, unless lawmakers extend one to them. Overall, this pandemic won’t only strongly affect the travel industry, it will forever change it at a very base and fundamental level. With these businesses heading into financial ruin, there simply won’t be the resources to extend to travel bloggers/influencers. Essentially, we have witnessed the end (at least in the short term) of the travel blogger/influencer as a viable career.

That’s not to say I don’t have plenty to write about from previous trips – I do. From a moral point of view, I find it incredibly difficult though to write a new travel post or record a podcast during all of this because to me it seems tone deaf. Others disagree with me and I can see their angle that people need distractions now more than ever. However, it seems so cold to write about a new ride at Disneyland or the benefits of visiting Northern Italy when the world isn’t only quarantined, but thousands are also dying. Ultimately, I will create new content during the pandemic, because it’s what I do and without it I think I would go just a little bit crazy. It does though seem oddly out of step with the rest of the world.

Queensland Australia laptop

Virtual connections

The real power of travel is I think the sharing that happens between people. Whether we like it or not, we’re all citizen ambassadors when we leave the country but it’s not a one-sided relationship. Meeting new people, learning about their stories and lives, that is I think the most important part of the travel experience. These meaningful interactions though don’t have to be physical, they can also be virtual and that’s what we need now more than ever.

Social distancing may be the worst phrase I’ve ever heard and yet it is now the cornerstone of daily life. We can’t enjoy those interpersonal interactions without threat of contagion, so what are we to do to not only maintain our sanity but also our humanity?

You are reading this article online, which means that you also have access to the rest of the World Wide Web. Social media has proven to be incredibly helpful during this crisis but, as is always the case, it is also I think heightening the mass hysteria out there. A few things you can do to help include:

  1. Don’t be duped by and don’t share fake news. Be a citizen journalist and obtain several sources before quoting what may seem too fantastical to be true.
  2. Engage more with your online friends. Check to see how they’re doing not only physically, but mentally. Many will die from the coronavirus, but there will also be mental health emergencies along the way. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word to help someone manage their problems.
  3. Share items online that encourage and brighten people’s days. It’s easy enough to find doom and gloom, but increasingly challenging to find stories that restore one’s faith in humanity.
  4. Be kind. (Repeat as necessary)

It’s ok not to talk about how awesome travel is for a while, at least not as vociferously as we have been. For a decade I’ve made my living writing about the benefits and joys of travel. This week I came to the realization that continuing this as a full time job probably isn’t realistic, at least not for the duration of 2020. That’s a tough pill to swallow and to compound things, the travel industry isn’t exactly in a hiring position right now for out of work bloggers. So, when you see a blog post or podcast shared online, don’t criticize the creator for sharing it. Realize that it’s an attempt at normalcy, read or listen to it and use it as a means of escape from the quotidian, if only briefly. We’re all in this together, so let’s be there for one another.

If you know of anyone who’s hiring let me know! Looking for a job in the travel industry and I’m open minded as to what that might be. Resume available upon request.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

1 thought on “What To Write When Everything is Terrible”

  1. Good post. I’m having a hard time myself writing the usual post about destinations…besides which nobody cares right now including me.
    Instead I’ve been writing about our current lockdown situation in Spain. Others relate while others in North America are “shit, this is what’s coming…”

    Blogging for us hasn’t been our primary source of revenue, thank god. Nobody is thinking of travel right now. What will be very interesting is how this is all going to shake out in the future. It might change the way many people think of the world. The travel industry will change. How about borders going forward?
    It’s going to change a lot of things I’m afraid and at this point nobody really knows to what extent…

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