Yes, the title of this blog post sounds fairly light. Well, the title lied, it’s gunna be deep as shit. Stick around though, as at the end of this post there is a lovely little epiphany. So let’s get deep.
This is going to sound pretty ridiculous, as I actually currently work in advertising, but… I fucking hate advertising.
As someone who works in the industry, I’m subjected to more of it than most, and it fries my brain daily. The internet in its infancy was a marvellous thing; the omnipresent hub of all human knowledge, a platform to voice our opinions, and mass consciousness capturing the human experience. Today, with the exception of perhaps my beloved Wikipedia, the internet is a showroom, and more often than not, you are the product.
Your browsing habits, your spending habits, your likes, dislikes, secrets, searches – they’re all logged, and bought. Everyone knows this, but we just find it easier to ignore it. Like death 🙂
“What the bollocks has this got to do with travel?”, I hear you cry.
Well, everything. In the UK, we can’t escape advertising. Photoshopped faces pout at us from every billboard, TV set, poster and pamphlet. Twitter has ads. Facebook has ads. Youtube has ads. Even Google. Nothing is sacred in this marketing blitzkrieg. Everybody is trying to sell something to everyone else.
Now in Cuba, there’s none. It’s not allowed. Products are allowed branding on them, but just barely. No billboards, no bus banners. I’m not going to lie to you, though, walk the streets of Havana in a pair of board shorts and people will try and sell you shit. But it’s different. It’s personal. They speak to you, they listen to you and they learn about you; they treat you like a human being.
First world advertising thinks you are a number. You are a number in Google’s algorithms, and are constantly tested on to see how your spending habits can be maximised. It’s incredibly freeing to visit a country where this isn’t the case. In Cuba, people sell sandwiches from their bedroom windows. People buy the sandwiches because they are hungry. If they are nice sandwiches, people will come back. That’s where the ‘buyer journey’ starts and ends.
A person is more than their wallet.
Now, the lovely little revelation I promised. It may not seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but here’s my own protest. A lot of travel bloggers make a living from their blogs; enough of a living to travel perpetually – living the dream, basically. Thing is, to do that, your blog has to be an advertising platform. Google adwords, sponsored posts, guest posts, product reviews, whatever. I’ll ‘fess up – when I started this blog, for a while I envisioned the same kind of success for my site. Well, deep breath, I’m not doing it. Everything else is monetised and devalued by advertising. I wanted to find a way to make money and travel forever. It’s not going to be this blog. I don’t want to let money ruin my writing, and your reading. I don’t want anything from you apart from your time. I’ll find another way.
Cheers to that!
Okay, we made it. Let’s surface.
Good heavens, it’s a nice day up here.