Media ruins traveller’s experiences

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By Dino Sossi

The biggest surprise during my trip to Jamaica was that there were, well, no surprises.

Sure there were your garden variety surprises.

Golden hour vistas.

Superb food.

Incredible characters.

But, for the most part, I felt like Kevin Spacey signed an autograph as “Kaiser Sose.” Or like I watched Rosie wax self-righteously on the Brad-Ed doppelganger in Fight Club.

I knew too much. The surprise ending was ruined.

The weird part about my newfound expertness on Jamaica is that I didn’t go out of my way to learn it. I admit that I browsed a Web site. Listened to Marley. Blunted myself speechless a couple of times.

But the really cool parts of Jamaican culture—the patois, the food, the music—have all been bastardized by the producers of Cool Runnings and a suit parade of Madison Avenue ad execs.

In this post-modern age of instant information, there are no real surprises anymore. If you don’t know about something esoteric, someone else does. And they’ve made a shitload of money on a Web site designed to take advantage of the perpetually largest untapped demographic. Naive, information-hungry suckers. Like me. And you.

In a society which celebrates being in the know and the sarcastic, irony-savvy hipster schooled in self-detachment, we’ve shattered on of the few pristinely pleasurable parts of life: pure, naive surprise. As well as the childlike glee from getting blown away by something new.

I completely agree that it is interesting to hear a Jamaican accent on the radio. Or read a good piece on Rastafarianism.

But experiencing the newest things in life on an Imax screen just isn’t the same as seeing them first hand. Our insatiable wanderlust for the undiscovered mysteries of the world has been matched only by our ability to mass communicate them. And our lives have unfailingly become worse.

P.S. Don’t worry. The irony of this article being attached to a series of photographs and factoids isn’t lost on this simple writer.

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