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.