Monday, May 15, 2006

Disaster Tourism...



















Apparently a number of Americans and Europeans are using their hard-earned vacation time to take their families on pilgrimages to experience Katrina-torn New Orleans, tsunami-swept Sri Lanka, and the heroes of Ground Zero. The number one tourist attraction in Poland is Auschwitz. Is this excessively morbid or a sign of progress? What are these people looking for - redemption? a personalized experience of history? dark thrills? Schadenfreude? The Apocalypse? Hard to say.

If you follow the future-minded writings of Alvin and Heidi Toffler, you would probably see "Disaster Tourism" (a phrase coined just 14 hours ago by Todd Walker at an impromptu Sunday dinner chez Gazpachot) as a good thing. The Toffler's believe that this is a time of radical adjustment for the human race. We are experiencing a "powershift" from a technological society to an information society and with this change come "countless opportunities and new life trajectories." According to them, we'll be doing a lot of things we never did before. We might even catch ourselves mid action and say, why am I doing this? In a knowledge-based society, disaster tourism is a natural impulse, a desire to make the destructive path of history real.

In a more cynical mood, I might argue that people are numb from an endless barrage of chemicals, marketing, and manipulation from "forces they can neither understand nor govern." (C. Wright Mills)

We are drawn to the meaningless swatches of geography where "something big happened" like moths to a flame. Scale is important for only the largest of the large events can penetrate the cocoon of our numbness and alienation causing us not to feel so much as recall the concept of feeling.

Have a nice day!

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