Why It’s Easier to Stay Fat, Stupid and Untraveled
There’s one of the seven deadly sins that I find fits the modern age perfectly. Lust? Hardly – even with a plethora of nightclubs and Craigslist personals, this sin has remained more or less stagnant.
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I refer of course to sloth – the desire not to desire; inability; laziness; not reaching with the mind or the body.
Travel is all about extending yourself. Moving beyond perceptions of closed societies by finding a foothold and learning how people in other cultures live their lives similarly. Pushing your strength to the limit with adventures to the tallest mountaintops. Getting away from comfort and into the unknown.
With all our 21st century conveniences, one could make the argument that merely trying to get by day-by-day is the epitome of sloth.
Yet with all our 21st century conveniences, one could make the argument that merely trying to get by day-by-day is the epitome of sloth. With technology and the mindset of the general population slowly changing to accommodate the sloth, the world is essentially becoming the antithesis of what vagabonds desire: conveniences to eventually strip away the need for any physical activity, and the propagation of information designed to inhibit growth, not encourage greater understanding.
What are some of the ways the world makes it easy to be fat, stupid, and untraveled?
#1: Online Shopping
Seven hundred years ago the idea of “imported goods” was an alien concept. A few centuries later, and colonists had to wait months for ships to pass through trade routes and reach their ports. Even as recent as the 19th century, small towns relied on the Wells Fargo wagon for the latest and greatest products the world had to offer.
Nowadays, all it takes to get anything you want at any time is a credit card and the click of a button. Why run to the grocery store anymore if they can be delivered? No need to wait in line for that new book; Amazon can get it for you the same day. Online shopping is one half of the American dream brought to life: a pill to be perfect and a button to push whenever you need anything.
Unfortunately, without that pill, the body and mind decay. One loses necessary skills to live in the real world. Why should we go to the movies with friends when the film can be downloaded for free within seconds? Why settle for a standard toothbrush when you can have an electronic one delivered right to your door, along with anything else that comes to mind?
#2: Fast Food
We all know fast food is a risk to your physical health, but the very fact that such places exist sets a dangerous precedent. Not only do you not have the time to sit and enjoy a healthy meal, but you can’t even take the energy to walk out of your car. I will admit: mass production works quite well for Ford and machine assembly, but leave it out of the equation when it comes to anything edible. In this case, brand name recognition and low costs only lead to high cholesterol and less exercise.
#3: The World Is “Too Dangerous”
I don’t care which news organization you watch or read – The New York Times, CNN, FoxNews, BBC … Every one, at some point or another, has exaggerated the dangers of traveling abroad to promote the idea that “home is safe, comfortable, and pretty sweet”, while “the rest of the world is out to kill you.”
Ok, ok, ok. There are plenty of disasters and political unrest abroad. But to sell off an entire country as nothing more than a land mine waiting for an unsuspecting foreign traveler is just manipulation.
You want to know what these areas are like? You don’t have to catch the first flight out. Do some reading. Learn about any shared history, the source of these problems. Are they as black as they’re painted? In either event, you pick up some interesting facts to spread to fellow travelers and, hopefully, break down a few misconceptions.
Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? ”¦ Has it ever occurred to you … that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? ”¦ The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking””not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
1984, George Orwell
I doubt Orwell could have conceived of anything remotely like the Internet, but it’s pretty eerie just how well he nails the next generation of conversation. Don’t believe me?
They’re more than just abbreviations; they represent an entirely new manner of speaking and writing. When was the last time you typed out a complete sentence when texting someone? Was it eloquent? Reducing information to its bare essentials and taking the poetry out of language is Newspeak, plain and simple. Texting, Twittering, Facebook messages … all are limiting your thoughts well below their potential. Have you been away from your phone or computer and reminded yourself that you need to Twitter this and that when you get back?
Nor is this restricted to two-way communications. Social networking does wonders for advertising and people who choose to click on the links and read the full stories, but many look at the titles and shortened descriptions and move on, accepting a summary over content. If this keeps up, by 2050, the entire high school English curriculum will be as follows: