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Has the internet ruined adventure travel?

Posted by on March 6, 2012

No.

Have a read of this piece on the BBC Magazine written by a poor poor journalist who has been forced to experience the internet and phone signal in an area previously untouched by such modern inconveniences.

Sorry, I know I’m sounding snarky. The thing that gets my goat here is that it’s wonderful to be a tourist experiencing the un-touched parts of the planet – but the reality is those places have people living in them, and why on earth should they be denied access to the internet or mobile signal to make us feel better and really ‘get away from it all’.

I feel the same way towards this journalist as I do to 40 year olds who complain about Radio 1. There’s a simple answer here… turn it off.

Best line in the piece:

Take Ernest Shackleton’s heroic Antarctic feat – one of the greatest adventure stories of all time.

One wonders whether it would even have happened had the internet been around in his day.

Of course, you’re quite right. The internet has killed the spirit that led to explorers wanting to push the limits. These guys are quite clearly  just sat in front of their computers experiencing the small world via the net and not getting out there.

…and breath.

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2 Responses to Has the internet ruined adventure travel?

  1. Anna

    Matt,
    I completely agree with you – the point this BBC journalist is trying to make is nothing but stupid, and on so many levels at that! There is no doubt that access to the internet would’ve changed Ernest Shackleton’s expedition! So would’ve helicopters, GPS, and Columbia Omni-Heat gear …
    What’s more is that internet access alone doesn’t help you survive in remote areas. Survival, which is at the core of every adventure, may be facilitated by access to modern communication but what’s wrong with a few more people getting to live and tell their story?
    I have to admit, I was a little surprised to find out that most of the Kenya’s Maasai Mara has cell phone coverage and most of the nomadic Maasai tribesmen own cell phones (no direct access to electricity though – so they have to walk long distances to larger villages in order to charge their phones which, by the way, they only turn on every so often). And like you pointed out above, why should they be denied communication with the rest of the world?
    And when hyenas came into our small tent camp in the middle of the night, cell phone coverage and internet access were as useless as a gun without bullets – unless someone figures out how to strangle a hungry carnivore with wifi airwaves …

  2. Chris Smith

    Adventure is defined by the undertaking of an activity where there is an element of risk and the outcome is unknown. The Internet is great for communication, research and planning but it does not address on-site, moment-by-moment risk. If a storm is coming while you’re summiting K2, a satellite internet connection will happily supply the depressing news that a storm is on its way but it won’t get you off the mountain. The Internet may give you the meteorological information needed to make a judgment call on whether or not to set off for the summit but it won’t help out if things change. We didn’t take a mobile phone, sat phone or satellite internet with us when we went to look for Manchester in the Amazon for three simple reasons – a) we were confident in our preparation and skills for what we were undertaking, b) if we had got into trouble it was unlikely that anyone would reach us in time to avert a negative outcome, and, c) it’s a poor philosophy to knowingly put others in harms way just to get yourself out of trouble. To not take any means of communication with us was a personal and joint decision. I wouldn’t criticise anyone for making a different decision to ours. It’s a question of choice and that is all – to use it or not to use it. I use a satnav for work but I don’t take one on holiday with me. Would Earnest Shackleton have taken one with him? I’m sure he would have done. His sponsors would have demanded it and he was responsible for a good deal of men. Anyone asking the question is missing the point. I never knew him but he was my Great-great uncle. I was asked to participate in the re-creation of his attempted crossing of Antarctica and had I gone, (instead of being in the Amazon looking for a lost village) I’d have had a GPS locator because the BBC told me I had to. It would still have been an adventure though.

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