In the noble quest to find oneself through traveling is it possible to overlap, even infringe, on the paths of others? I read an article today about the detrimental effects photojournalism has had on indigenous tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. The locals there now limit their own development and cheapen their culture for the forgettable benefit of any journalist or tourist with a buck to throw their way once the headdresses are off. Their lives now revolve around sustaining an image of a tribe that has essentially ceased to exist.
Now, I’m not one for sob stories. I have little patience for those who are portrayed as the alleged victim when they, themselves, benefit and enter by their own free will. I pledge with the un-alleged. But it upset me when this article called the happenings of photojournalism in the valley a “human zoo”. This is the stuff of creepy movies and human centipedes.
My travel has always revolved around me; I want to go so I do. I want to better myself, so I take pictures, write in my diary and get to act pretentious at my next cocktail party. I travel for myself. But if travel is truly for the benefit of only one then how can it justify any sort of harm to another? Surely if good (for 1 person) = bad (for 1 person) we’re right back at point zero. Might as well have stayed home and watched TV.