It's not all selfies on pristine beaches; it's also hard work.
September 1, 2015 8:23 AM   Subscribe

 
HI HELLO HI
posted by griphus at 8:32 AM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Our fallback career in this is more lucrative and we had enough cushion saved up that we could pretend to be poor for a while. #selfinflictedfirstworldproblems
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:37 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


But still you'll never get it right,
'Cause when you're laid in bed at night,
Watching roaches climb the wall,
If you called your Dad he could stop it all.

You'll never live like common people,
You'll never do whatever common people do,
You'll never fail like common people,
You'll never watch your life slide out of view,
And dance and drink and screw,
Because there's nothing else to do.

posted by entropicamericana at 8:38 AM on September 1, 2015 [42 favorites]


This is one of those blogs that really are not what they purport to be. Stuff like this annoys me.

Look at the pics on this page; this is a life worthy of Conde Nast Traveler.

These are privileged people on a privileged, immaculately photographed jaunt around the world.

This is not quitting a job in advertising to "scrub toilets." This is quitting a job in advertising to pretend you are traveling around the world scrubbing toilets, when in fact you are creating a highly trafficked website that fuels the fantasies of discontented middle-class professionals and will allow you to segue seamlessly back into a cushy gig when you're done with your expensive trip.
posted by jayder at 8:39 AM on September 1, 2015 [33 favorites]


This is quitting a job in advertising to pretend you are traveling around the world scrubbing toilets...

Wait so are they lying about the scrubbing toilets or it just doesn't count because the other stuff you said?
posted by griphus at 8:40 AM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


Also that thing you linked to is a completely different couple of people.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


But there's a huge difference between being a working class person who scrubs toilets - and whose toilet-scrubbing is considered, basically, an existential condition of being working class - and a privileged person whose time spent scrubbing toilets proves that they are adventurous and have the common touch, and can actually be used as a selling point in getting better, more fun, higher profile privileged work.

It's like the difference between a girl who is a secretary for a couple of years between college and graduate school and a girl who is a secretary because that's going to be her career. One of them is having a character-building experience which will make her fit to manage and expose her to how the "real world" works, and one is a stupid working class woman who could clearly be replaced by a trained monkey and who obviously lacks ambition, etc. (Because I have a degree, people used to mistake me for Girl A; now that I'm old, they know I'm B, and they treat me worse because they know I'm working class. A working class job is kicky and challenging when it's filled temporarily by a member of the elite; it's stupid, useless, barely deserves to be paid at all, etc, when it's filled by a working class person.)
posted by Frowner at 8:46 AM on September 1, 2015 [98 favorites]


Wait so are they lying about the scrubbing toilets or it just doesn't count because the other stuff you said?

Obviously I can't know, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out they are lying.

What was the industry they came from, again?
posted by jayder at 8:46 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


> There’s nothing quite like swopping million rand advertising budgets for toilet scrubbing to teach you about humility, life and the importance of living each day as if it were your last.

This brag, so humble. I hate bullshit like this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


hang on i have this bill hicks video everyone needs to see
posted by griphus at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


Award-winning ex-Creative Director who sold (almost) everything she owned to reinvigorate her creativity and challenge herself on a year-long journey around the world. Chanel is the global custodian of the ‘Yes Man’ theory and lives by the motto, ‘collect memories, not things’. She’s also obsessed with sweet baked goods, on a mission to visit every Patisserie in the world and is living caffeine- and dairy-free.

This is not a person who will be doing low-wage work for her career. This is a person who will leverage her visit to the world of the working class into some kind of even higher-profile, better job which will be extra-good because she'll be able to "speak for" the toilet-scrubbers of the world.
posted by Frowner at 8:48 AM on September 1, 2015 [22 favorites]


Also that thing you linked to is a completely different couple of people.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on September 1 [+] [!]


Fair enough! These pics will do just fine.
posted by jayder at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2015


I mean, tbh, this bugs me and it doesn't bug me. I am pretty middle class, probably gonna stay that way until I die, so when I see younger people getting to do stuff like this, I am torn between envy and self-loathing. I don't have a college education so I couldn't get a cushy job to quit to go all over the world, scrubbing toilets or no. But I would like to think that I could eventually really travel to the places I'd like to see before I die so I start to hate myself for not being clever enough to figure out. (This isn't helped by the constant refrain that it's so easy to do, you just have to not want to be tied down, etc.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know exactly how to say this, but: this is not really a normal thing to do, and I don't mean that in a good way.

Traveling is wonderful. Seeing new parts of the world can be extremely interesting and even transformative, sometimes. And it's normal to document such things, through photography, journals, etc.

But making a splashy, narrative spectacle out of the whole thing, along with a whole extraneous backstory, just makes it seem rather calculated, since they're so insistently foregrounding their professional status and the class aspect themselves. It just seems designed to get people invested, to create an audience that will have thoughts and feelings about these people almost as though they're characters.

In other words, this whole thing is like an ad campaign for these particular individuals. They're selling themselves through this story and although I don't know how they will profit from it I feel pretty sure they will think of something if they haven't yet.
posted by clockzero at 8:52 AM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


I enjoyed their photos of canids and appreciate this post for its photos of canids.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


A working class job is kicky and challenging when it's filled temporarily by a member of the elite; it's stupid, useless, barely deserves to be paid at all, etc, when it's filled by a working class person.)

First of all, right. So right.

Second of all, "collect memories not things" is a very sweet idea when you know you can buy/replace things when you need them. That slogan is pretty insulting to those of us who collect "things" like Tupperware containers for our lunches, coats for our winters, etc. And for the memories we "collect" that might not be bright colors in exotic countries, but quotidian sweetness like kisses, a really good sandwich, a pretty sunset in our neighborhood, and other attainable pleasures. It's another way of saying travel makes your life worthwhile, and if you can't or won't travel, you're just slogging through the grind like a drone blah blah blah. I love the fuck out of my life, but travel isn't part of it right now. And I don't really want to change that.
posted by witchen at 8:53 AM on September 1, 2015 [35 favorites]


I enjoyed their photos of canids and appreciate this post for its photos of canids.

I was hoping their 'Travel Companions' page would be an endless scrolling sea of dogs, but, sadly, it's just links to brands they like.
posted by cjelli at 8:56 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


A pair of toilet cleaners choosing to chronicle their adventures in a high end ad agency: that one I'd read!
posted by rongorongo at 8:56 AM on September 1, 2015 [42 favorites]


I was hoping their 'Travel Companions' page would be an endless scrolling sea of dogs, but, sadly, it's just links to brands they like.

ok now I'm mad at them too
posted by griphus at 8:58 AM on September 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


I don't like to be part of the pile-on, but I think it's justified here.

My dad swept floors and scrubbed toilets for a living, among a couple of dozen poorly-paid jobs that he took over the years so that our family could eat and wear clothes.

If he were alive today and I told him I was putting my nicely-paid career on hold to go and see how the working class lived, he would have either slapped me or cried, I don't know which.
posted by pipeski at 8:59 AM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


> I was hoping their 'Travel Companions' page would be an endless scrolling sea of dogs, but, sadly, it's just links to brands they like.

I wonder if their Official Sponsor is paying for all the jam and cheap snack food they're apparently barely surviving on.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:59 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


everyone who works in advertising knows how to polish a turd
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


Dishwasher Pete >>>>>> everyone
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:04 AM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


The privilege exuded by these people is painful. Nice pictures and all, but the self-righteous class-tourism is repugnant.
posted by dazed_one at 9:04 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eat Pray Love 2: existential toilet crisis
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:06 AM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


Well-off people should never travel
posted by shakespeherian at 9:13 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Previously on MetaFilter: Person leaves their lucrative marketing job to become a chocolatier's apprentice in Paris, quits after 4 months because they have to, like, do apprentice work and stuff.
posted by usonian at 9:13 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


But wouldn't it be nice to live in a utopia where ordinary people could really do something like this?

We'd need some kind of strong social safety net - health care coverage that traveled with you and probably a minimum income program, plus some kind of well-maintained licensed SRO/long-stay-hostel/old-style room-at-the-YMCA situation would probably take care of it. It's very much like an early sixties poptimism science fiction world - you could easily picture everyone in sixties-futurist fashions (the kind with funny headgear and cutouts at the midriff) jaunting around spending a year in, like, Helsinki working in the utopian recycling plant, then heading out to Istanbul to spend six months doing cat healthcare. Everyone would work three hour days, of course, due to automation.
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on September 1, 2015 [19 favorites]


Well-off people should never travel

No. Well-off people should never attempt to veil their travels in some kind of "living like the real people live" scrim. They can travel to their heart's content. Just own it. Don't pretend it's something it really isn't.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:20 AM on September 1, 2015 [22 favorites]


utopian recycling plant

'EY FRANK THE 'LOOKING BACKWARD' CONVERTER'S OFFLINE AGAIN I'M UP TO MY ASS IN BELLAMIES
posted by griphus at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


heading out to Istanbul to spend six months doing cat healthcare

oh god this would be amazing
posted by Kitteh at 9:25 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


They can travel to their heart's content. Just own it. Don't pretend it's something it really isn't

"Everybody hates a tourist." -- Pulp
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:27 AM on September 1, 2015


When you are scrubbing toilets in Paris and your boss yells at you and you have the option of leaving for Milan two weeks early if you tell him to stick it up his ass because it's not like you'll be in Paris again looking for a job to scrub toilets... And should you encounter this guy again in your life - chances are you'll be able to make their maintainance request hall of fame for luxury sweet room trashing... Well, that's a very different reality from having to bite your tongue and lose your self respect a little because you'd rather put food on your table for the rest of the week.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:28 AM on September 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


Yeah, their insistence on presenting this polished version of themselves and their personal brand is giving me the icks. Like, this sounds like a really cool experience for them, and I don't begrudge them doing it. If you have the money and the privilege to go travel around the world like this, billy for you. But the self-presentation as these amazing brave adventurous spirits who are learning what hard work is really all about? blargh.

After being gone exactly 6 months, I feel it necessary we share the uglier side of our trip. Browsing through our blog posts and Instagram feed, it seems like we’re having the time of our lives.


Um yeah, that's because of the blog posts and Instagram photos you choose to put up. Now you're going to give us the #realtalk that you've actually been getting your hands dirty (but still looking hip and beautiful doing it).

(It's interesting though, Kitteh; glad you posted it!)
posted by aka burlap at 9:32 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


In fact, while we're on the SF thing (or rather, while I'm on it), Samuel Delany's novel Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand has a plot that's a bit "jaunt around the world doing stuff". While there's some class stratification (I think...at any rate, the protagonist is from a fancy family) for the most part everyone has - IIRC - a couple of professions that they sort of swap around between (for instance, one might be an industrial designer for Job1 and also have Job2 mucking out the vats at the nematode farms) and then people do other stuff, and it seems like anyone can take time off at any point to be a student. It's a highly organized society, obviously, and essentially a post-scarcity one, and it's interesting to consider what Delany describes as the necessary precondition for the rest of his plot.

Of course, the book starts out with a hundred pages of the experiences of chattel slave Rat Korga, who has been so abused by our-world style capitalism that he elects/is forced to undergo "Radical Anxiety Termination" and no longer has free will.

After that you get the utopia.
posted by Frowner at 9:32 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Everybody hates a tourist yt ." -- Pulp

Man, between this and Common People, Pulp's really not into class tourism.
posted by aka burlap at 9:33 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: After that you get the utopia.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


So yeah, we love to mock the pretentiousness of the young and well-off, and this is such a spot-on hipster travel blog that it's almost a parody of itself, but... who are they harming, really?

I doubt that they're scrubbing that many toilets, to be honest, so it's not like they are taking jobs away from locals. Instead they're spending money on the tourist trail, and in some places (like Greece!) that money is sorely needed.

And of course they're going to use this to relaunch their careers. Didn't Mark Twain do the same thing, 150 years ago, with The Innocents Abroad?
posted by math at 9:46 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


It remains annoying! The rich have many privileges, but people not making fun of them is not one of them.
posted by easter queen at 9:48 AM on September 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


who are they harming, really?

Everyone when they come back to their hometowns and start in with the "Being poor isn't that bad, I scrubbed toilets for 8 months therefore anyone can pull themselves up by baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarfffff"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:48 AM on September 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


I suspect the comments are moderated, but as one commenter pointed out, if you're trying to travel the world on a budget why would you go to somewhere like Norway?
posted by DanCall at 9:49 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like a lot of the talk around the privileges of people who walk away from their life to travel the world is overblown quite a bit, especially here on mefi. But I don't feel that way at all in this specific case. These people are pretty ridiculous.
posted by dogwalker at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel like a lot of the talk around the privileges of people who walk away from their life to travel the world is overblown quite a bit, especially here on mefi.

I find it hard to believe that describing as a privilege the ability to impose your physical form onto any part of the world at will, with an expectation of physical saftey and hospitality few others in the world could ever expect, all thanks to a historical strongarming of the globe for resources under the banner of racial supremacy, can over be over "overblown".
posted by deathmaven at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wow, your understanding of "walking away from life to travel the world" is much different from mine.
posted by dogwalker at 10:15 AM on September 1, 2015


Everyone when they come back to their hometowns and start in with the "Being poor isn't that bad, I scrubbed toilets for 8 months therefore anyone can pull themselves up by baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarfffff"

Why do you think they'll do that? There's no inherent connection between the idea that "anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and "I wanted to see how the other half lived". Which is beside the point anyway, because these are two South Africans who are pretty clearly engaging in a fun-time-let's-live-rugged-but-yes-we-know-we-can-go-home-any-time adventure, not a "I want to understand global poverty" thing.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:25 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I legitimately wonder how much of the fire coming at these two is because they've made a shiny website and are using an expensive camera to take photographs.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:27 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad you asked

[pie chart appears broken up into "website/photos too nice," "privilege," "general grumpiness," "wasn't invited," "anti-toilet," "favorite #brand not featured"]
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


Honestly, when you are poor, conspicuous consumption is the most obvious marker of how you are undeserving of inclusion in culture, politics, zeitgeist, etc. In other words, the kind of people depicted in The Wire... probably could not even watch The Wire.

Hot people with nice bodies and expensive cameras "slumming it" as endorsed by a bunch of brands and pretending that a work/lodgeshare website is kind of equivalent to some kind of humbling poverty experience is... dumb. And if you're actually poor, it is a perfect distillation of the difference between temporary checking account poverty and actual socioeconomic poverty. So honestly it's kind of like, fuck you, may none of the benefits of temporarily not (but still kind of) being a marketing douche accrue to you.
posted by easter queen at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Frankly, if I'm honest, I'd probably do something similar if I could afford it and were inclined to scrub toilets, but I think a lot of the criticism is rightly because of the slick polished way they present their adventure. It feels less impromptu and more like the usual "young folk have money and flexibility and web-savvy know-how and I don't" as well as the usual disregard for people that actually will continue to scrub toilets long after they're back in South Africa.
posted by Kitteh at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2015


Yeah, this is at least the second time in recent weeks that someone has linked to a blog featuring people who have quit their regular job to travel for a while; and in both cases (so far) there is a bit of a pile-on. So now is probably not the best time to mention that my husband and I recently did this (and are now back in our homeland living our "regular" lives).

OK, I get that this particular couple seems especially obnoxious about what they are doing. And I also know that the average Joe/Josephina can't (or doesn't want to) do this sort of thing. But you know what? We met a lot of different people on the road with a lot of different stories/backgrounds, and you can't paint (or tar-and-feather) them all with one brush. Some were families. Some married. Some young and single. Some old and single. Some university educated. Some from a working-class profession. Some gay, some straight. Etc. Etc.

We all have different priorities. Some people would rather travel than buy a new car or spend money on a fancy wedding, the coolest clothes, whatever. And if you live in a fairly expensive country (as most of us here in Europe do), then you don't actually have to save a lot of money to live an ok-lifestyle for a year away in some other, much cheaper country (so long as you don't stay in hotels rather than hostels OR expect to eat out at the finest restaurants). In other words, your daily living budget can be a HELL of a lot cheaper outside your own country than inside it (excluding airfare). We spent less money to live travelling than we did if we hadn't left.

I'm not saying that it isn't a tremendous privilege to be able to do something like this (e.g., we met local people in Ecuador who told us it was too expensive for them to travel to a neighbouring country, let alone do what we did: fly half-way around the world to kick things off). I get that. And I am so appreciative of my options.

And that is all I am saying: People have options. Some of us have more options than others. Bemoaning the fact that other people make USE of the options they have (whether those are options unavailable to you OR they be the same set YOU have but you choose to prioritize something else) seems ...well...somewhat mean.

So poke fun at these people. But don't do it only because they chose a particular option that was available to them. Would you like them better if they had stayed in their jobs and not taken this opportunity?
posted by Halo in reverse at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2015 [18 favorites]


Personally, I have no problem with people leaving their cushy jobs to travel-- I might do it some day myself, now that I'm upwardly mobile!-- but it's the whole Our Poverty and Humility Blog, sponsored by AirBNB and Our Hot Yoga Bodies angle that is just like, put a sock in it. No one wants to hear your richsplaining!
posted by easter queen at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


And you know what they say about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing... I'm all about the privileged learning about the actual material and psychological conditions of poverty, but this isn't it. So idk, be a little responsible about your fake half-enlightenment. Maybe don't profit by selling it to other delusional middle-class/rich people on an aspirational lifestyle blog.
posted by easter queen at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe don't profit by selling it to other delusional middle-class/rich people on an aspirational lifestyle blog

But see, this is where I personally am torn. I want to believe that me, someone who might clear $20K this year at my minimum wage (by Canadian standards) admin job, might be able to be lucky to do some serious traveling one day, instead of kvetching about seeing other people do it, or making myself feel bad for not making enough money to do it because it is shown to be so easy to just travel nearly everywhere I go on the Internet. I mean, maybe I am delusional but I am allowed to dream.

Edit: my husband makes significantly more money than I do and even with our combined incomes, we still can't travel very often.
posted by Kitteh at 10:49 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, why don't you just quit your jobs and clean toilets? Maybe you need AirBnB to sponsor you on the side but that's easyyyy...

I guess that's why it's so annoying though. "oh, just quit your job and be a free spirit, travel is easy/cheap/noble," meanwhile they have probably tons of savings/safety net and advertising money, blah blah. Their blog is essentially a commercial for the services they use-- which, like all marketing, is misleading and meant to make you feel a new need. Feeling like, everybody does this! It's painless! It's the new millennial thing! Is part of that commercial.

This is the goal of like all lifestyle blogs, which I read anyway. Hey, look at my life! It is a commercial for a life you could have! Just click my links and pay my sponsors and I am set.
posted by easter queen at 10:56 AM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Personally, I have no problem with people leaving their cushy jobs to travel-- I might do it some day myself, now that I'm upwardly mobile!-- but it's the whole Our Poverty and Humility Blog, sponsored by AirBNB and Our Hot Yoga Bodies angle that is just like, put a sock in it. No one wants to hear your richsplaining!

How is this richsplaining? Obviously they are showing off their privilege, but what are they explaining to anyone? (Beyond, yahoo! Here's our adventure.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:07 AM on September 1, 2015


(Also, maybe I'm missing this because of µBlock or something, but where does it say they’ve been sponsored by anyone? Should they be apologetic for their “hot yoga bodies”?)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:12 AM on September 1, 2015


Welp, the dumb shit about "all we can afford is crackers," "this is hard," "but so humbling & #blessed" is just lame to anyone who uh has actually not been able to afford food.

"Today I ate three crackers and then, contrary to the principles of self-preservation, went on a 5k run around a pristine Scandinavian lake. I am starving, but it is like Hemingway said about writing on an empty stomach-- do it until you can get drunk again. My boss called and asked why I'm not at work on a Tuesday but he's a bourgeous wageslave and I am a free spirit who quit my marketing job to produce blog-based marketing that relies on the idea that I barely mention finances, work or anything unseemly!"
posted by easter queen at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


maybe I'm missing this because of µBlock or something, but where does it say they've been sponsored by anyone?

Here's a list of their sponsors. Sorry, "travel companions."
posted by divined by radio at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Should they be apologetic for their “hot yoga bodies”?

No, but they could be a lot more upfront about 1) why they have a sponsorship page on their blog, 2) the actual financial realities of what they're doing (I have a feeling their "sell everything and jet!" concept is slightly more complicated), and 3) why they would do a bunch of cardio while they're "starving."

I don't care if the people selling tooth whitener on TV are "apologetic" about their hot bodies either, but it's part of the marketing. And that's what these people are doing-- using their creativity to create a lifestyle blog that markets freespiritedness, as enabled by a bunch of websites/services/products. Marketing.

I would be a lot more interested in a blog about people who quit their jobs to travel and talked about the practical aspects of what they're doing, the people they encounter and work with, and not just "other hipsters we met along the way!" But whatevs. This blog is basically the insularity-in-world-travel blog. You, too, can travel the world and work a few hours a day while taking photos and hanging out exclusively with other Hot Yoga People. It's the Vogue of fake slumming. It's Kinfolk.
posted by easter queen at 11:18 AM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


maybe I'm missing this because of µBlock or something, but where does it say they've been sponsored by anyone?

Here's a list of their sponsors. Sorry, "travel companions."

BLUUUUGH. Well, now I'm much less happy.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:18 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Would you like them better if they had stayed in their jobs and not taken this opportunity?

No, I'm not mad they are traveling. For me it's just the presentation. I'm glad for them that they are getting to do this cool thing, and I even think the fact that they are doing it is pretty cool - hey, they are interested in seeing new places and they are adventurous and they are willing to be (temporarily) uncomfortable in exchange for having new experiences. All laudable.

I just find their presentation of it obnoxious. If they just had a blog that was intended to share their adventure with their friends and family, that would be understandable. But the sponsorships and the inclusion of examples of their work and their bios along with the kinda tone-deaf stuff about being on a budget... those parts all annoy me.
posted by aka burlap at 11:38 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this is just the difference between the 1% and all the rest of us, but man, I could never, ever imagine approaching a company about sponsoring my lifestyle blog. That would be awful.

Seriously, how do people dig deep enough inside themselves to scheme and promote themselves in such a cynical and gross glossy manner?

There are so many good comments in this thread. The bit about "other hot yoga people we met on our travels" is absolutely priceless.
posted by jayder at 12:54 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seriously, how do people dig deep enough inside themselves to scheme and promote themselves in such a cynical and gross glossy manner?

The rich are cheap, and they have the social/cultural capital to get other people to pick up the tab. That's one of the ways you stay rich, as my granddad used to say.
posted by Frowner at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


>Seriously, how do people dig deep enough inside themselves to scheme and promote themselves in such a cynical and gross glossy manner?

Honestly? It's (sadly) easier than you think. When I was in business school (before a sociology teacher talked me out of staying in it), a number of us pretty much showed up to class prepackaged to consider ourselves brands worth selling to corporations, and that meant tailoring our lives and our experiences to fit some sort of deep, inspirational vision filled with buzzwords. I didn't grow up super-wealthy, but middle-class kids get exposed to that kind of thinking early, esp. if they have white-collar parents.

So when you're shielded from so many complex and troubling (and painful) aspects of the human condition, it is easy to objectify others, and yourself. It becomes easy to reduce your life to a brand that needs to be cultivated, packaged, marketed, and sold for a profit.
posted by Ashen at 1:12 PM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


And it's why I interview well, and why a lot of the kids that I went to school with can get their foot in the door pretty much anywhere. You learn to actually market yourself,not just be polished and friendly and hireable, and it becomes a switch that gets turned on when you need people to buy into the idea of you. If you can turn human suffering and the cultivation of humility into selling points, then you've enriched your product and it's worth more. I'm surprised they didn't go to town with that.

So I totally believe that they're going to leverage their experience into some crazy-high paying jobs or use corporations to keep funding that kind of lifestyle. But it sure as hell isn't something that they should be proud of.
posted by Ashen at 1:18 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you can turn human suffering and the cultivation of humility into selling points, then you've enriched your product and it's worth more. I'm surprised they didn't go to town with that.

Yeah, this was the ONLY surprising/refreshing thing about this.
posted by easter queen at 1:23 PM on September 1, 2015


So I totally believe that they're going to leverage their experience into some crazy-high paying jobs or use corporations to keep funding that kind of lifestyle. But it sure as hell isn't something that they should be proud of.

This strikes me as odd. If you go off and have a life-changing experience, regardless of whether or not it’s been sponsored or you’re spinning it as you have it, I sure as heck hope you find a way to package it up as an integrated part of your life story such that you can use it to inform your world views and very possibly spin it to a practical end. If they have honed that skill, why shouldn’t they be proud of it? Should they be ashamed of having talents?
posted by Going To Maine at 1:24 PM on September 1, 2015


If they have honed that skill, why shouldn’t they be proud of it? Should they be ashamed of having talents?

I can't speak for the person you're responding to, but here's my take. It is obnoxious to pretend you have abandoned your materialistic, conventional, high-powered professional lifestyle to get in touch with What Really Matters, but rather than actually nurturing real change within yourself, you package up your experience in a ridiculously glossy manner and use it to step even further up the materialistic, high-powered, corporate ladder that you pretended that you were rejecting.
posted by jayder at 1:30 PM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


I sure as heck hope you find a way to package it up as an integrated part of your life story such that you can use it to inform your world views and very possibly spin it to a practical end

These are two very different things that you have packaged as one. It's not uncommon to do so in late capitalism, but they are not the same.
posted by easter queen at 1:31 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have a story that pertains to this thread. I read about these people a day ago and it reminded me a lot about a personal experience I had about 4 years ago.

I use to have a fairly large tumblr blog that I put my photos on and reblogged stuff and talked about my life and such. It peaked about a year after I had moved to Portland. A lot of photos I uploaded were good ones from my film camera and others were just from my phone of me hanging out, drinking with my friends, eating awesome food, house shows, riding bikes, and other typical things you do when you're 22 and living in a city like that. I had a lot of followers at the time (upward of 10,000 I'd say) and I got a lot of messages and talked to a lot of people on there. A not-minuscule amount of people loved my lifestyle, wanted to move there, told me how jealous they were, etc. To them my lifestyle was amazing and they wanted a piece of it. I can't count how many people straight up told me they wanted to move there because of my blog alone (only a few actually did in the long run).

Now, here's where the real shit hit the fan. In actuality I was incredibly depressed. I was working a shitty retail job, scraping by paying my rent and utilities, drinking 40's because that's all me and my friends could afford (however, to a lot of people this was glamorous in a way), and was sad because my girlfriend of over a year had just left to Scotland for 6 months on January 1st. I had a pretty big identity crisis, where I was shocked and humbled that all these people thought I was so cool, living this crazy urban life of doing drugs, riding my bike, partying with friends, having bands like Best Coast play my basement, smoking weed with members of No Age, when in actuality I was fucking miserable. I had basically cultivated a lifestyle blog for people who wanted to be leave their small towns and suburbs behind and live a cool Portland hipster lifestyle. I ended up suddenly deleting the blog one day.

So unfortunately I have no resume of this sort of thing but I'm fully willing to sell out and do this all over again because fuck it I want to travel. How do I get sponsors?
posted by gucci mane at 1:32 PM on September 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


...but rather than actually nurturing real change within yourself, you package up your experience in a ridiculously glossy manner...

why "rather" as opposed to "both"?
posted by griphus at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2015


because you left out the second part of his sentence "and use it to step even further up the materialistic, high-powered, corporate ladder that you pretended that you were rejecting."
posted by twist my arm at 1:35 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


>If they have honed that skill, why shouldn’t they be proud of it? Should they be ashamed of having talents?

I would agree that it is a talent, but only in the most neutral sense. But nope, turning yourself into an aspirational object is not something to be proud of. What are they doing presently? Are they out doing charitable works or using their insight to alleviate the suffering of the folks who are permanently scrubbing toilets day in and day out? No idea - that information isn't really public. What is very public is their glossy, very well-built website about their fabulous vacation, a storybook example of what people far wealthier than they can achieve if they were so inclined. They're packaging personal growth into a cute little well-wrapped box, side-stepping the actual thinking, philosophical readjustments, emotional calibrations - the work, is what I'm saying here - required for personal growth. If personal growth were an actual product, they'd be committing fraud.
posted by Ashen at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Eight years ago my wife and I also quit our jobs and spent all our savings travelling the world for a year.

Re-reading the blog post I wrote just before we left, it looks like our main goal was to get the fuck away from the daily grind for a while and enjoy a lot of time being free together in the big wide world. "Temporary early retirement" we called it — a nice long, fairly low-budget holiday. We also blogged the whole thing, but just as a way of documenting what we did and keeping friends and family up to date.

It was a pretty great experience, and I'm super glad we took the chance to do it before we had kids. Our blog's still up in case anyone's interested in reading about where we went, what we did, and which country has the best barbers. Feel free to MeMail me for the link.

These guys? Fucking try-hards.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


People like this are annoying, but equally obnoxious to me is a certain part of the response to them -- all this buzzing with a sense of one's own purity, humility and virtuousness simply because one doesn't live these exact privileges. As if these were the only people ever to benefit from "a historical strongarming of the globe for resources under the banner of racial supremacy"! Until they actually come home and do some of the bad things people are pointing out that they definitely have the potential to possibly someday do, as far as I'm concerned, they are nothing but another white couple having a pretty good time that isn't available to everybody. Just a petty distraction.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


is obnoxious to pretend you have abandoned your materialistic, conventional, high-powered professional lifestyle to get in touch with What Really Matters, but rather than actually nurturing real change within yourself, you package up your experience in a ridiculously glossy manner and use it to step even further up the materialistic, high-powered, corporate ladder that you pretended that you were rejecting.

I agree! But this isn’t what they are doing. They characterize themselves as having a “bloody amazing” time, not, you know, gaining some kind of class consciousness. The fact that they both worked in advertising and have sponsors doesn’t exactly imply that they’ve rejected the commercial world. (I mean, I find it gross that they call their sponsors “traveling companions”, but that’s me.) The “About” page is them talking about how they are out there saying “Yes!” to things. To the extent that that’s a philosophical stance, they want to make their lives feel risky again.

I do think that the bombast of the line, “There’s nothing quite like swopping million rand advertising budgets for toilet scrubbing to teach you about humility, life and the importance of living each day as if it were your last” is a bit ridiculous, but I can’t say it makes me want to explode in rage.

I sure as heck hope you find a way to package it up as an integrated part of your life story such that you can use it to inform your world views and very possibly spin it to a practical end

These are two very different things that you have packaged as one. It's not uncommon to do so in late capitalism, but they are not the same.

I think I actually talked about three things:
  • Integrating the experience into your life and practice
  • Using it to inform your consciously-held world views
  • Spinning it to a practical end. All three are admirable. Not unconditionally, but generally.
If personal growth were an actual product, they'd be committing fraud

The project is devoted to “creativity” and its employment. Their industry is advertising and glossy photographing. Building a glossy website that shows off their “creativity” and photographic skills is a pretty basic career building tool.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:51 PM on September 1, 2015


It's not primarily devoted to the employment of creativity. From the website:

We are both creative thinkers and believe that everything (we sincerely mean everything) can be conquered with a little creative thinking. So join us as we try figure out how far we can go from home (and of course home, in the figurative sense, meaning anything comfortable and safe).

It's a travel/lifestyle blog that establishes creativity as a virtue, and it invites people who buy into it to help those two "push the boundaries" of their personal Yes-manship. The tone of their About section is, at parts, two shades away from "help us go on a spiritual journey to find ourselves and connect with other human beings."

Embracing creativity or spontaneity as a virtue isn't new among white-collar workers, however. It's simply a tool leveraged to suggest more depth to a thing than actually exists. And more concepts like "earthy" or "free-spirit" become attached to a product*, the more "real" and "honest" the product becomes - so long as there is an anchor that returns them (and the viewer) back to white-collar/upper-middle class trappings. The product is their lifestyle made consumable. The anchor is their blog.

*Because you can sell things to rich people simply by attaching carefully-curated working-class or counter-culture markers and rebranding them as tools of personal growth or insight. It is an accepted notion that corporate cultures often drain people of creativity or can get in the way of spiritual development. This why rich people turn working class and counter-culture experiences into escape valves. It's why Eat Pray Love was so wildly successful, Burning Man has become gentrified (apparently), etc. etc. etc.
posted by Ashen at 2:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's a travel/lifestyle blog that establishes creativity as a virtue, and it invites people who buy into it to help those two "push the boundaries" of their personal Yes-manship.

I agree. But... so what? Where’s the beef? I agree that they’re selling this impression of their using “creativity” to solve things, and I think this is pretty natural of them given that they come out of advertising culture; both advertising and the zeitgeist fetishise creativity. I also agree that this isn’t new. But so what? It’s their blog! Let them preach what they want to preach & live how they want to live.

They note back in this March 19 post that this trip is a year long sabbatical from their lives - their lives in advertising. This is self-evidently the sort of escape valve that you’re mentioning, and they are taking it because they want to return to industry later. (Maybe they’ll change their mind? I doubt it, but who knows.)

Given that they are planning to return to their industry full time, I can’t say that documenting their experience is particularly weird. If they can leverage it for future use, bully for them. What’s wrong with any of this?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:43 PM on September 1, 2015


What’s wrong with any of this?

It's privileged people enriching themselves on the lives and stories of people who have more difficult lives than they do. It's reducing real human beings into pieces of consumption they can gobble up to further increase their privilege.

Do you really think it's OK to dehumanize others to increase your own power and status in the world? I know that's the cultural zeitgeist these days, but just because it's acceptable doesn't mean it's not gross.
posted by gehenna_lion at 2:53 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


Let's examine the product for a bit, then. Here are some of the items that they're hoping to do:

Go one month surviving on just 5 euro per day

Spend an entire night (or more than one) out on the street with a homeless person (suggested by Bruno on email)

Walk across Ayres Rock “Uluru”, Australia (suggested by @gerrieford on Instagram)

Meditate and do yoga in Rishikesh, India


Yes, meditating and doing yoga in Rishikesh as a white South African for profit is recreating a colonial dynamic. Yes, walking across Uluru as someone who is not Anangu is also recreating a colonial dynamic. I didn't highlight every item that's problematic in that regard, but the suggestions made were accepted and posted without any consideration for how they themselves could be replicating dynamics of privilege, power and exploitation. And of course that would be the case, because this corporation-funded, international project has parameters that do not take marginalized peoples into account, and is built upon a solid foundation of class privilege - and the creators have no clear intention of leveraging their experiences to a greater benefit, despite the fact that their trip is enhanced in part by marginalized peoples and that they're being paid to interact with them.

THERE'S my beef.
posted by Ashen at 3:02 PM on September 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


Walk across Ayres Rock “Uluru”, Australia

You got the quotes around the wrong name there, friends.
posted by griphus at 3:07 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


You think it's obnoxious for the younger generation to be taught to how to market themselves, it's worse when you're older and looking for a job and it is practically expected. I've encountered a lot of contemporary employers who want to know how you sell yourself, what your brand is, and sadly, they're ones who offer the most money. I am not yet at a stage in my late 30s where I don't want to make a good living and tell them to stuff themselves.
posted by Kitteh at 3:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's privileged people enriching themselves on the lives and stories of people who have more difficult lives than they do. It's reducing real human beings into pieces of consumption they can gobble up to further increase their privilege.

What people? Whose stories? As near as I can tell, these posts are 90% photographs with a blurb of text - they are the purest fluff. As near as I can tell, roughly 0 other human beings are mentioned in them or depicted. Is a photo blog of your travels that you support with some advertising links some kind of robbery? Or is it just you having a good time and earning money from click-throughs.

THERE'S my beef.

I can see some of that beef, but I guess we'll just have to go in different directions here. The possibility of a puff-photo heavy post about doing yoga in India just doesn’t particularly grind my gears, with or without sidebar ads. Going for a month on five euro a day seems like a weird fit, but that’s hardly a weird stunt. “Spending a night with a homeless person” is gross, no doubt, and I hope that goes awry. These seem like some shallow creative types, but that’s about all I can find to dislike.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


You think it's obnoxious for the younger generation to be taught to how to market themselves, it's worse when you're older and looking for a job and it is practically expected. I've encountered a lot of contemporary employers who want to know how you sell yourself, what your brand is, and sadly, they're ones who offer the most money. I am not yet at a stage in my late 30s where I don't want to make a good living and tell them to stuff themselves.

I think this is the other frustrating aspect of the website. It's like a reminder how much of our lives and the world has been commodified: art is a commodity, culture is a commodity, spirituality is a commodity, travel is a commodity, community is a commodity, belief systems are a commodity, other people are a commodity, and we ourselves as persons are now commodities. It's not even the skills we have to offer our employer, now we're expected to brand our selfhoods with a corporate mark just to get our foot in the door.

It's like we've had our whole lives robbed from us, and we have to work to get it back by making a bargain with corporations and businesses to sell ourselves to them, and they'll offer us some protection to our ego in return. That is, if you want to play the game. I'd rather not play it, but seeing all the good paying jobs sort-of require it, and how many people are playing it, and having massive student loans to pay off, it's really depressing to even have to consider it. And these two exemplify that belief system, so it's pretty vomit inducing.

Not to mention this belief system is also currently wrecking our planet into irreparable oblivion, so yeah.
posted by gehenna_lion at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2015 [18 favorites]


The tragedy for me is I wish I could make myself marketable for a job that pays high five figures, but so far I haven't found a way to make a tea-drinking, cat-loving bibliophile of interest to any company that offers that.
posted by Kitteh at 5:09 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've come to value and fiercely defend time that doesn't have a dollar amount attached to it. But since I want to create a deep nest egg for my retirement years, I can't just work part-time jobs indefinitely, even though I've adjusted to living on a meager (under $20k) salary. So I HAVE to leverage what little class capital I have (although it barely helps) or be in dire straits whenever I stop working. It becomes necessary to sacrifice living and breathing more freely in the present in exchange for potentially stable twilight years, knowing that the stress will shorten my lifespan. Also assuming that I live long enough to retire. It's a devil's gamble that you're almost guaranteed to lose unless you're well-off.

Which is one of the horrors of living in a capitalist system with deep inequality. It gets real when you realize how finite your existence is, and how much of it you're trading it away to someone else.
posted by Ashen at 5:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think that travel discussions, in person or here, can have a talking-past-each-other quality. On the one hand, extended travel costs far less than most people seem to think it does. (For the cost of a not very nice used car, a person with a US or western European passport can travel in the developing world for months, if not years.) And at the same time, people talk up the value of travel tend to elide the tremendous privilege it requires to be able to do so -- good health, not needing to support family, having the right kind of citizenship, and on and on and on.

I saw this link when it was first posted in the other thread, and the overly-shiny and -branded presentation didn't really speak to me. At the same time that the eye-rolling stuff about cleaning toilets makes me cringe, I'll give them credit for putting this much effort into a sustained project. I suspect taht these are the kind of people whom I would enjoy having dinner with, while finding their online personas insufferable.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:19 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Her name is Chanel.

Maybe if you're blessed with the name of a luxury brand, this is the best possible outcome.
posted by dominik at 7:38 AM on September 2, 2015


But wouldn't it be nice to live in a utopia where ordinary people could really do something like this?

postcapitalism!* (reviewed by gillian tett :)
Mason thinks — or hopes — that a postcapitalist world is a place where only part of the population will work for cash, on a quasi-voluntary basis; the rest will be pursuing non-monetary goals. He wants governments to provide a guaranteed income for the entire population and free (or low-cost) basic services and public infrastructure. He also wants companies to automate as many processes as they can (rather than relying on cheap labour) and central bankers to conduct financial repression to reduce national debt.

Mason’s vision for the future, in other words, is a world where the government provides the framework to enable individuals to flourish but state functions are handed over to citizens. It is a place where people are secure — and equal — enough to use the efficiencies unleashed by automation to pursue worthy goals, such as volunteering to write Wikipedia pages.

It sounds utopian. And Mason does not attempt to describe in any detail exactly how western society might achieve this new postcapitalist world. Nor does he address the issue that tends to preoccupy many unions and leftwing groups today, namely the fact that technology is currently turning many workers into the equivalent of insecure digital sharecroppers, rather than collaborative creative spirits. Just look at the current fights around Uber, and the lack of security for workers there.

But while Mason’s ideas might seem crazily idealistic, they are thought-provoking. And it is worth remembering that the concept of Wikipedia would have once seemed crazy, too. So perhaps the key message from the book is this: in a world of rapid technological change, we need to rethink our old assumptions about “left” and “right”; cyberspace is ripping up many ideas about the government and class system. Politicians of all stripes should take note. And so should the people who vote for them.
posted by kliuless at 9:06 AM on September 2, 2015


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