Safe Travels

Alright first I talked about the weather,  now I would like draw attention to travelling safety. There are places that are very dangerous for say country/rural citizens because they are lacking common sense awareness. I use stories to put things in perspective, because what one person thinks is “safe” is just relative to their experiences. Say for example, when I was a baby I lived in a pretty big city. Kidnappings were a common occurance, like daily. Even things like someone would go up and ask the parent a question, then another person would grab the baby out of the stroller and take off running. 2 seconds, and your child is now gone. It was just part of daily life, but yet it doesn’t get reported on all that much because it looks bad for those cities. And yet when I moved to the country, kidnappings were treated more as an urban myth. I know one example that really shocked me, was a guy who was probably 20 at the time, and thought kidnappings only happened say when a family member took a kid. He didn’t think strangers kidnapped kids, his answer was, “that doesn’t make any sense, what would they do with someone elses kid?”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the obsurdity of it. I know my mother was mocked a lot for always knowing where me and my siblings were. It seemed like overkill to the people of a small town, but to her it was idiotic to trust that strangers had good intentions for your child. To her, she saw the town people as equivalent to going, hey look Johnny that man in the van says he’s got free candy, why don’t you go get some? So it didn’t really bother her all that much to be made fun of for protecting her kids.

Now of course growing up I also had a different perspective than those around me. I mean going from a major city, with some high crime rates, to a rural town, definitely caused some difference in opinions. One of the wierdest things I see now, are online safety reviews for different areas. Different people have a different meaning to the word “safe”. In the places I’ve lived, some thought safe meant you didn’t really run into problems as long as you were home before dark. And they would think, well it’s like that in most places. And then I’ve met people who thought a safe area, was where people didn’t lock their doors, or sometimes just used a screen door. The problem with these situations, is that they read online and find that another city is “safe”. But I would go, yeah but they are not using your definition of safe. Which was why one kid I knew from the rural area, moved to a “safe” part of the city, and got robbed within the week. I’m surprised nothing worse happened, but he did move straight back after the incident. I’m pretty sure any form of awareness would have prevented that issue in the first place. He just went, oh this area is safe, so I don’t need to watch my surroundings, be careful who I walk by, or be careful about what I carry.

Anyways, my point is you can’t trust people’s opinions about a location. They are using their own experiences to judge what a place is like, relative to the other places they have been. And in this day and age, online reviews can give a person a false sense of security. You can certainly take their comments into consideration, but don’t believe it till you see it. And always be careful when travelling. Heck nowadays, just always be careful. I saw one news story, where the ladies car was being stolen at a gas station. This badass lady jumped on the hood, and started banging the windshield and screaming at the guy. He tried to drive somewhat to shake her off, but she was having none of it. He eventually gave up and left in the other getaway car, but I was like, dang, nicely done lady. So even at your local gas station, be vigilant, people can and do, just hop in others cars and drive off. I meant to talk about the benefits of travel, but I guess there are only benefits if you stay safe. You need to travel to get a sense of the world, but it is a dangerous place, so prepare for the worst, and then you can enjoy yourself. Being kidnapped or robbed, would definitely ruin any type of vacation or travel.


Location Bias

The past week was just one of those weeks. I had so many things going on, I’m just starting to recover. First off, I was travelling, so even my sense of time was completely thrown off. But one of my goals was to travel, so it was beneficial in a lot of ways. There is just something about actually physically going somewhere. Besides the exhaustion of the travelling process, there is a limit as to what you can learn at home. The modern age has especially caused us to be more susceptible to false information. It’s so easy to think you know what a place is like without actually going there. Google houses so much information on any physical location, that it’s easy to feel connected. But the internet is just one big wikipedia. Everything is based on biased perceptions.

Academically it could help, but it could also lead to misconceptions about areas. I’ve looked up places on google maps, and then actually physically stood there, and it can seem completely different. I hope we don’t start to believe that seeing a screen shot is the same as traveling to the location. It’s the same as seeing someone’s picture, and thinking you know the person. Especially for kids, they would feel like they have been to these areas, when all they are seeing is a compilation of pixels that represent a shallow image. I don’t think the teachers will stress to the students how different actually being there is. Experiences in an area, bring the place to life. It should be called virtual deception, not virtual reality. You’re deceiving yourself to think that what your seeing is reality.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to learn from others experiences and stories, but people see the world from their own filters. For example, I’ve travelled around and lived in multiple climates. I’ve been in harsh environments where the temperature is unstable and ranges in extremes of below zero, and high 90’s. I’ve also lived in areas where the environment is stable and stayes between 60-80 degrees year round. Yet the unbelievable part, is that I’ve met people who have never left these areas and they have described the weather the SAME. From both parts, I heard people say the weather there was great, good for outdoor activities, and a great place to live. The physical nature of the places couldn’t have been much more opposite, yet the people who had lived in the harsh environment their whole life, thought the weather was just fine. People who read reviews online could easily believe the weather was great, in fact that was one of the most common misconceptions concerning the area. I lived there years, but after leaving, I continually heard people saying “oh I would love to live there, I heard the weather was great for the outdoors”. And I would go, yeah if you enjoy riding a bike in below zero weather, clouds and wind moving in by noon every day of summer, and never having to use an umbrella, because the wind is so strong, an umbrella serves no purpose, if it’s raining, you’re going to get soaked regardless. The phrase people used was, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. It was that unpredictable, which of course made it so you could never plan outdoor activities. Even when it was nice, you knew an hour later there could be a flash flood, or a blizzard. 

The disconnect came from the individuals who had always lived there. A lot of them had lived in even more rural mountainous areas, and so they thought the small city was really great. I mean, hey, at least your not stuck in your house for a week every blizzard, well not normally, it does happen every few years. However, they had extremely biased views on weather, since they had lived there their whole lives. And that was one of their selling points. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve heard people say, oh the weather there is great! Yet it was 9 months of harsh winters, and 3 months of windy summers where there is only 1 hour of sunshine, and the rest is cloudy and windy. By that point I had moved to an area with the 60-80 degree temperature range. And people who had lived there their whole lives, thought the weather in those areas were terrible! People really can get themselves in a mental box. But the worst part in modern times, is that they read through the internet and Think they know about other areas. At least earlier generations knew they didn’t know about an area unless they travelled there.

I went longer than I thought, so I’m going to break this into 2 posts, I’ll talk about location safety in my next post.