I began travelling when I was about 10 years old. My mum allowed me to travel on the train to see my grandmother. This was such a grand adventure for me and I savoured every moment.
Everything about each trip was exciting: the bus to the train station, buying the “day return” train ticket, the ride itself and even waiting in the station waiting room..because it was full of travel posters of distance lands… like London, 100 miles away!!! ha ha ha. I also enjoyed my tea and chat with my grandmother.
Travelling has always been multi-faceted. A BIG facet is interaction with others. Especially other people of different cultures, because I wanted to learn, with keen interest about thier own lives. This has helped me develop an understanding of the world around me. it
It’s helped me understand the effects of poverty, censorship, religion and cultural customs and I learn more about the city or country I was visiting. Forty countries and counting…
So imagine my horror today when I had my suspicions confirmed that young traveller’s indeed do NOT want to interact!! Yes, you read that correctly, I was told by several people, under the age of 30, that they don’t talk with strangers. That strangers scare them.
I posted a comment on the Facebook “expats in Thailand” group… I asked why European people, especially under the age of 30 years old, did not acknowledge my hello, smile/nod of my head or my good morning. Here are a few replies:
“…if a ramdom person says hi I will think they’re a perv or scammer (the two times I continued a conversation with a random person in Thailand I encountered one of each, and I’ve gotten a couple of hellos from the sexpat looking types which I ignored, in addition to all the tuktuk drivers and business owners trying to lure people into business). And also I may not be expecting it and just minding my own business only registering the hello when it’s too late.
Also in my country talking to a stranger in the street could lead to ending up with my phone or purse snatched, or me stabbed or shot.”
“I don’t respond to creepy old men no matter what country I’m in lol”
“No one owes you a smile, an acknowledgement, or their time. At all. If someone wants to walk around ignoring everyone around them, so be it. Also, you don’t know what they’re thinking. Maybe they didn’t hear you. Maybe their dog died. Maybe they are triggered by random men chatting them up..? I ignore most unsolicited “conversation”. Lots of women do because it is a saftey issue. If you’re a cashier in a store or a barista or hold a door open for me I am polite and make eye contact, but that it not an invitation to continue to chat. You are not entitled to any person’s time it attention.”
Sad comments right? So what does a bad person look like exactly?? I use my intuition. Your age, gender, race is never a barrier for a simple Hola!! However according to these young-uns.. it is!! Apperently manners, politeness and the simple art of a “good morning” will be gone in 50 years.
I posed a subsequent question… “why do you travel if you hate to talk to others”. I got few responses, those that did stated “to see the country and not to talk to creepy old men”. Yep. So are all “old men” creepy? Or do they have some creepy old man radar technology in thier phone?
Us, older travellers and expats have made jokes for years about younger people being obsessed with thier smart phones. Well, this is now not a laughing matter, it’s a Western cultural change that is a scary look into the future. For me personally it is making travel far less interesting. Here in Thailand 80% of traveller’s in tourist areas are from Europe and they really do not want to say “good morning” let alone have a conversation with me! Last week I was leaving my hotel room in Krabi, Southern Thailand and a young European couple in the opposite room was leaving at exactly the same moment. We were less than 2 feet from each other and I said “Hi. Good morning”. No reply. No smile.. no nothing. Very odd indeed and very common here with young Europeans.
According to one European young lady she conjectured that maybe the other people were “triggered” by me saying hello. Ha ha ha . Really? well, in that case, you need some profesional help and some inner healing. I need need to travel where there are less younger Europeans with a very bad attitude about life.