The Middle East is a region that is commonly misunderstood and misrepresented in Western Media. For years, inaccurate portrayals and scaremongering have deterred people from wanting to visit this region which is a shame.
The reality is that this corner of the globe has so much to offer. Take Tel Aviv for example – a medley of beautiful white-sand beaches, bohemian coffee bars, eclectic street art, and fascinating history in nearby Jaffa. Tel Aviv is a highlight to any Israel itinerary and it would be a shame to miss this part of the world due to misguided fear.
Perhaps due to the growth of Instagram, and the existence of Social Media Influencers as a source of alternative media, people are becoming more open to the prospect of traveling to places that until recently they only had limited information on. Is that a step in the right direction? Of course! However, with that comes people whose intentions are perhaps not entirely positive.
Who Are You Travelling for Anyway?
With the rise of the social media generation comes an increase in those whose predominant objective of travel is to feed their ego and accumulate likes on their social pages. Standard travel doesn’t cut it anymore. Their adventures become wilder and more daring.
Once upon a time, exploring Nabatean cities like Petra, or chatting with locals in Jerusalem would have been considered an adventure. Now, these people seek more – more adrenaline, more danger, more unusual travel to make them stand out.
Instead of seeking adventure in the old bazaars of Jerusalem, or floating in the Dead Sea, individuals seek difficult-to-obtain visas to conflict zones where they pose in front of rubble and destruction. They post their photos to Instagram as they reflectively stare over yonder with pensive looks on their faces, and an inspo-quote posted in their caption. Behind the scenes, they smile as they rack up the likes and comments, and people exclaim how brave they are for daring to travel to such ‘dangerous’ places.
The people caught up in the conflict and suffering locally are nothing but props and backdrops to Instagram photoshoots. On social media you can find it all – those straddling the former tanks used by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq as they pose in a keffiyeh scarf, and those who prop up their expensive DSLR cameras in Syria, completely inconsiderate to the continued struggle going on around them while they strive for the perfect angle for that photograph of them in front of a blasted building.
This kind of attitude isn’t helping anyone. It reinforces the ideology of the ignorant western tourist, and it gives a wrong perception of the region. When we travel, let’s try and leave any savior complex behind. Travel for an interest in the culture, the history, the food, and the people of a country, not to amass cool points among your peers.