It all started when I got my first job.

I’d just finished my exams at school and was free to spend my summer however I pleased. I was 16 and still a child, but my mother got me a part-time job working in a government office during the evenings.

For a first job it was amazing: good pay, looked great on a resume and I was good at it too. Everything seemed perfect until the bullying started.

At the time I was incredibly naïve. All throughout my time in school I had shied away from socialising because I’ve always been an introvert. The result of this was I didn’t know how to fit in. I didn’t know about fashion or how to talk to others. I’d rarely gone shopping for clothes in my life and thought nothing about how I looked.

I realise now that none of these things really matter anyway. You can wear what you want, be who you like, it’s your life after all. However when you’re younger difference isn’t something that is accepted but rather something that is opposed.

I’d love to say it changes as you get older, but really it doesn’t. No matter what your age there will always be people looking to single individuals out and try to force them to be the same as everybody else. Always somebody there to look down on you.

At my job, I was the odd one out. I went to work everyday in a shirt and trousers but there was no dress code. Everybody else wore trendy jeans and t-shirts. I may as well have been dressed as a clown.

I had a terrible haircut and didn’t know what to say in social situations. Everybody I worked with was a year or so older than me and they all seemed to understand the rules of fitting in so much better.

To make matters worse, I was completely unaware that I was the odd one out. I was naïve about the world and how people acted or were supposed to act.

Looking back, I feel a surge of anger. It happened over a decade ago but with hindsight I can see where I went wrong, I can see the full picture and see the injustice of the situation.

It took me a while to understand that I was being bullied, it was a strange feeling for me. Each day I would go into work and would be the subject of jibes, pranks and abuse from a group of people, all led by one chubby guy a year or so older than me.

To describe the events makes them seem less worse than they were, but it seemed like everything that happened was designed to torment me. All the little things piled one on top of each other until I found them hard to handle.

At my job when you printed something out, it was sent to a room where you could collect it. Some times I would go to collect my prints and they would be missing. Obviously I thought the printer was broken, so I went back to my desk and printed them out again. Again they were missing. I took a look at the printer to try and fix it and that’s when I noticed my print outs had actually been hidden underneath the printer.

This happened a few times and it drove me insane. Partly because I knew who had done it, but I had no way to prove it. It was impossible to fight back against because everybody could deny it.

Worse, I knew it had happened, they knew it had happened. So I felt they were laughing at me. Little instances like this may not seem like much on the surface, but when they happen to you every day you start to question why they’re happening and if you’re not mentally strong the conclusions you come to can be brutal.

My manager was rarely around and I worked a late shift which prevented anybody from really intervening in the bullying. The bully would shout things at me, or make remarks in my direction but the only people around were our peers, the same age as us, they just kept silent.

I guess somebody must have said something to the manager eventually because I soon found myself being separated from the others. This didn’t really change anything, in fact it made things worse. The bully increased in volatility, finding new ways to get at me.

He figured out the phone numbers to the desks around me and from the other side of the room he would ring them from his mobile phone. Since I had to answer the phones as part of my job, I was forced to go to the phones and pick them up. Of course, when I went to pick the phone up it stopped ringing and laughter echoed out across the office.

Worse, I would have to walk by the bully’s desk every time I wanted to get a print out, meaning I wasn’t separated from him at all. Each time I walked by he would make a noise in my direction or shout something at me. Sometimes his friends would laugh, other times everybody would stay silent.

Eventually I got sick of him. One day as I was walking by he said something and I confronted him about his comment in front of everybody. I can’t remember what I said now, but it was something like telling him to shut up. His friends laughed.

Instantly he turned aggressive, I’d obviously made him lose face in front of everybody so he had to regain his dominance. He looked up from his seat and said “Watch your mouth you little shit or I’ll take you outside and kick your head in.” I just laughed at him and walked away. Everybody else sat in silence.

When I go back on this moment, it’s not actually the bully that bothers me. It’s that everybody else sat in silence and let it go on.

For me, those people that sat back and did nothing were just as active in the bullying as he was. By turning a blind eye to bullying and hoping the problem goes away by itself, you’re instead supporting the bully by making him think his behaviour is acceptable.

Now, some of you that have never been bullied may wonder why I did nothing about it. I can offer a couple of reasons why. One reason is that bullies prey on the weak. If I was strong enough to stand up for myself then I wouldn’t have been bullied. I had neither the confidence or the knowledge as to how to stop the bully, so he continued.

The larger reason though was because I was ashamed. The constant barrage of humiliation left me not wanting to go to work, but I forced myself to go as I didn’t want to admit to others that I was being bullied.

When you’re bullied, you live in shame. Simply knowing that you aren’t strong enough to stick up for yourself is enough to make you feel weak. You don’t want to ask for help because you feel ashamed of yourself for doing so. In my case, I almost felt like I deserved to be bullied. I took a look at myself and started to believe that maybe the bully was right, maybe I was worthless?

Obviously this is a silly thing to think, I know that now, but when your self-esteem is low it’s hard to look for help from anybody. I never wanted to admit that I was being bullied to others because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was weak. So I instead just hoped it would all go away.

Eventually the bully was moved to another room and we were separated for good but by that point the damage was done. My self-esteem took a big hit and when the bullying was added in to other problems and stresses in my life I fell into a slump – one that I never truly got out of for years.

I battled depression for a long time afterwards and while I wont blame it all on the bully, I will say that the bullying was the catalyst to start off a spiral of self-pity and depression.

For years afterwards I went through periods of hopelessness and after a while I started to think back on the bullying and punish myself for doing nothing about it. I would look back, asking myself why I was so weak and foolish. Why was I so naïve?

Really I was just telling myself these things as I was depressed and trying to prove to myself that I was a useless human being and always would be. Thinking back on the bullying gave me no excuse to feel otherwise.

The conclusion I came to was that the bully didn’t like me and nobody stopped him so they didn’t like me either. If people didn’t like me then that surely meant I was a bad person, not to be liked. This logic makes no sense now, but at the time it worked perfectly for me.

A few years after the bullying, I was out shopping. I decided to take a shortcut down a back alley to go to a music store. As I was walking along, I looked in front of me and who was walking towards me but the bully. I watched him walk by and he didn’t even recognise me. It was as if I didn’t exist and never had.

On the bus home I was filled with a rage. How could a person that had such a negative bearing on my life not even notice me in the street? It made me feel so insignificant.

I thought back on the moment and fantasised about getting revenge. That alley meeting was the moment when I could have finally felt justice by physically confronting the bully and getting my anger out by beating him up. Instead I did nothing.

For a time I punished myself for the mistake. The ironic thing is that when you’re depressed and have low self-esteem you actually start to bully yourself. I beat myself up mentally for doing nothing, told myself I was weak and always would be. Said to myself that I was worthless, that I deserved all the bullying.

I don’t really want to explain how I got out of this slump because that’s a story for another time. I’ll just say that eventually I built myself back up, gained confidence in myself and realised that maybe I wasn’t so worthless after all. I am finally happy with myself and who I am. It took a long time, but I did it.

When I look back now on the situation, I partly feel angry at myself, but mostly just feel pity for the bully. I can’t claim to truly understand the bullying that happened to me. Why he did it, what his reasons were. There could be a number of explanations. Maybe he was a sociopath and didn’t really care. Maybe he was bullied himself and it was a way for him to gain self-esteem.

Either way I feel pity. Whatever the reasons I now realise that a bully is lacking something. Humanity, self-esteem or empathy. All the things that make a person happy.

The truth of the matter is that bullies are unhappy in some way and bullying is an outlet for their pain. So all I can feel now is sorry for the bully because I truly know how unhappiness feels and it’s not something I’d wish on anybody.

After a time, I forgot about the bully. I realised what he did was juvenile and nothing to do with who I was, but more to do with how he felt about himself. Soon he was lost to the recesses of my mind, never to be remembered again.

Until a few months ago that is.

I was reading something online about bullying and he popped into my mind. I was working in Korea at the time as an English teacher and curiosity got the better of me. I decided to do the only natural thing: look him up on Facebook.

By this point I’d even forgotten his name, which is how insignificant he’d become. I soon managed to trace him down and looked at his profile. I didn’t know how to react to what I saw.

When we think back on bullies, we always want them to have somehow gotten their just desserts. We want them to have suffered or have failed. I think a lot of us always believe that karma comes back to bite everybody in the ass eventually. However that’s not what had happened to him.

On his Facebook, it revealed that he too was in Korea, he too was an English teacher. It was a strange feeling for me, coming to the realisation that the bully and I were alike in some way.

I always wanted to believe he was different from me, but really it now seemed we were much alike. My initial reaction to this was annoyance, the old feelings from the bullying came back to me. I was angry because he never suffered for what he did.

Irrationally I also felt like he had somehow made my own life less legitimate because it was his life too. Even after all of those years I couldn’t stand to share something in common with this person.

I quickly came to a realisation, only momentarily. If I wanted my revenge, now was the time to get it. We were both in the same country, living at opposite sides in different cities. We hadn’t been connected to each other for 10 years. I could easily track him down, make his own life hell, harass him, beat him or even murder him. I could easily get away with it too, there was no link between myself and him. I would never be suspected.

I only had these thoughts for a moment before I pushed them away. By getting revenge, I would be no better than he was. I would be bringing myself down to his level. I may feel like I had gained power, but really we don’t need any power when we’re comfortable with ourselves.

If we’re happy with who we are we don’t need to do anything to validate that happiness, we just have to continue to be ourselves and that’s enough. By getting revenge, I myself would have been nothing more than a bully.

Once I finish writing this post, the bully will no doubt fall into the back of my mind again.

We are now unconnected, both completely different people, the experiences are nothing but memories. Maybe he regrets his behaviour, maybe he never even realised he was bullying me. I don’t care either way.

It doesn’t matter. None of it does. It means nothing to me and who I am now. I think that’s the best revenge of all. When it no longer affects you. You see how insignificant the bully really was.

They are gone and forgotten.

With each year that goes by, my knuckles get a little hairier and my brow gets a little thinner. I change so gradually that I never truly notice it. Each day I look in the mirror and see the exact same person I saw the day before. Only when I look back on old photographs does it dawn on me that I have aged.

I am getting older, but not old. An 8 year old would look at me and think me an ancient old man. Yet, an 88 year old would laugh at the thought of me being old, no doubt seeing me as little more than a baby.

I’m 28 years old and I always ask myself: am I an adult yet? To that 8 year old, I am. To myself, I’m not. I know I’m no longer a child. So what the heck am I?

When we become adults, is it a specific moment, or does it just happen so gradually that it’s invisible, much like when we look in the mirror. Do we suddenly wake up one morning with the realisation that we have become something entirely different without noticing? Or are there no sudden realizations.

Maybe nobody ever realises that they themselves are an adult. Maybe adulthood is only something we can see in others. When I was younger, my impressions of an adult were that they were wiser, smarter, more mature than I was. Basically, I believed an adult was prepared for everything in the world, that they had all the answers, that nothing was a problem to them. They had their shit together. They knew everything about life.

As time goes on, I know these things don’t make an adult. Nobody on Earth is prepared for every problem, nobody completely has all their shit together. None of us has all of the answers. Most of us are completely oblivious about what we’re doing.

Only when I look at the children I teach, am I tempted to consider I may be an adult.

Children are completely innocent and naive. Constantly curious. Always asking “Why?” Using the question without bias. Simply wanting to know the answer. As we grow older we lose that curiosity and it’s replaced with cynicism.

Cynicism is the blight of all grown-ups. Those same children that innocently asked ‘why’ with curiosity grow up to ask ‘why’ in defiance. Growing older means learning to distrust the world. We begin asking “why?” because we’ve lost all belief in anything true. We no longer question something for curiosities sake, but simply because we always want to be right (and so prove everyone else wrong.)

It sounds stupid, but the day we learn Santa isn’t real, is a day we take a big step forward into adulthood. It’s then that we’re confronted with the truth of the world. That everything magical is a sham – held together by lies and deception. Worse, everybody knew it was a sham but they continued for your sake.

I remember the day I found out Santa wasn’t real. I was 7 years old and standing in line, waiting for my lunch at school. My friend and I were talking excitedly about what Santa was going to get us for Christmas. An older (thus meaner) child turned to us and with a voice filled with mocking asked “You do know Santa isn’t real, right?” Immediately, I knew it wasn’t a lie. It made instant sense. Yet it still hurt. I hid the pain and just said “Yeah, of course I know”. That was that. No more Santa.

Growing up I’ve found you can never completely believe in anything because it can all be pulled away from you just as quickly as Santa was. Eventually the world turns on all of us in some way, we lose our innocence and we have our heartbroken by someone or something. For some of us it happens earlier than others.

It breaks my heart that the children I teach have their perfect little lives, while other children, of similar ages around the world are shooting other children in wars, or working all day until their fingers are bloody.

Once you grow up, you learn about the darkness of the world, and maybe that is when we become adults. When we put away, not childish things, but our childish notions of the world. When we are children, we are in love with everything with complete innocence. We are virginal. Not in a sexual sense, but in the sense that we are free from (so called) sin and judgement.

When I was a child, I watched the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun and instantly wanted to become a pilot. I fell in love with the idea. Yet there was no reality behind my thoughts. I never considered that I would have to learn to fly, spend years of my life in school. The future was just something to be dreamt up in the mind without fear or consequence.

Now I’m living that future and the world seems so much more brutal in comparison. If I ever dream, it is momentarily, before the voice in my head interrupts saying ‘Don’t be silly, this could never happen!” What child believes they’ll have to work hard to make money? That they may have to make tough decisions? That they may have to struggle to find happiness? The future is a beautiful dream for a child.

This all may seem very negative, so I must wonder when that youthful positivity died. Perhaps my naivety as a child was shattered by the actual world. Perhaps that’s adulthood. Facing up to the horrible facts of life.

There’s a syndrome called Paris syndrome which seems to be suffered by mostly the Japanese. Japanese tourists head to Paris with expectations taken completely from movies. They believe Paris is a magical place, filled with joy and happiness. But the problem is, Paris is just as shitty as everywhere else in the world. When the city doesn’t meet the expectations of the tourists, they suffer an extreme form of culture shock, almost a nervous breakdown.

As a child we have these same expectations built up for us around our lives. The world is a magical place, we’re told. But it’s an even bigger lie than Santa Clause. When we leave school and go into the real world we are completely unprepared because we realise our expectations were all wrong. In essence, we are sold the lie that life is fair, but the reality is, it isn’t. We can’t all be fighter pilots, no matter how hard we dream. Maybe that’s the true sign of adulthood. When you realise the scale of the world, of your own life. When you face up to reality.

Yet, still, there’s a counter argument. Many can be cynical, yet still hold onto childish notions and thoughts. Cynicism doesn’t make us an adult.

Maybe my idea of an adult no longer exists in the world. It seems like adolescence goes on forever now. We are sheltered from the real world by our parents, our schools. For some of us, we can spend so long in education that we never truly experience the real world. Hell we never truly experience anything.

I lived with my parents until I was 25 – something that’s becoming all the more common in Western society. My parent’s generation and the generations before were much quicker to leap into adulthood. Maybe they would be married with children and their own house by the time they’d entered their early twenties. Fully adults, younger than myself.

That lack of experience shields us, prevents us from learning. We find ourselves lacking social skills, ways to think, ways to cope. Entering the world now is a scary process, we are thrown into it and we hold tight to childhood. We grasp on to our childish things and don’t let go because in comparison to the real world, our childhoods seem so perfect.

Still for every definition of adult that I muster, I have another contradictory thought.

I think about the people I know, who I consider adults and the one thing they have in common is stability. They’ve all made decisions, or chosen paths where their future is certain. Their next 20 years are planned out. They have children, they have houses. Responsibilities.

I have no responsibilities and maybe that’s the last step into maturity. When there are things we need to do, when there are people that depend on us, when we know what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year. When we have a plan. When we stop dreaming.

Plans seem to be a thing of the past. Life isn’t as simple as it used to be. Career is starting to become a dirty word. Our lives are getting longer. People have so many options in life that they don’t know what to do. Adulthood, responsibilty, real plans. They’re now being put off until later and later because we keep on dreaming.

Without a real plan, or a solid future, you find yourself lost in limbo. No longer a child. Nor an adult. Stuck between the gaps..

Slowly as time goes by, I find myself dreaming of a home. I dream of a room filled with books, with a comfortable chair and a warm fire. I dream of growing my own food, learning to bake bread. I dream of loving friends and waking up to warm sunshine in my eyes – I’m happy to see each day. Maybe it’s a dream we all have. Our own home, our own family. Unlike fight pilots though, it seems obtainable. A dream we all can reach.

A dream, perhaps, of adulthood?

Everybody wants to be liked.

When somebody likes you, you feel acceptance. Being liked insinuates that who you are as a person is fine, that your mere existence is worthy. Suddenly when you’re liked, you’re important, even if it’s just to one person.

Working with children in Korea, I was amazed at how much significance being liked took on. All day the children would constantly ask each other who they liked, who they didn’t like. Each child would inevitably ask “Who likes me?” and their mood would be dictated by the response. More than ever, at a young age we seek that acceptance from others. We need to be liked.

The children even had a game they played. They would ask “Who likes me?” and hold out their thumb. They’d begin a count to ten. Whoever was holding their thumb at the end of the count liked them. The lower the child’s self-esteem, the more they hungered for acceptance, the more they’d play the game.

Example:

As we grow up, we start to gain more confidence in our selves and we no long crave to be liked. We still enjoy it though. It’s an affirmation that we’re doing something right, we’re good people.

These days the word “Like” has taken on a new meaning through Facebook, it no longer means that we enjoy something, but rather than we acknowledge it. The decision from Facebook all those years ago to include Likes as a feature is a genius one.

Their problem: people would post on their Facebook pages but without any way for others to show they’d read the post, the original poster would assume nobody had read it. If nobody reads what you’ve written, why bother to write at all?

Without Likes, nobody would use Facebook because everybody would feel their effort is wasted. Suddenly with this one feature, everybody has their content validated. That small Like let’s them know somebody cared to read their words and enjoys their thoughts. This positive reinforcement leads to people making more content, which leads to more dedicated users for the Facebook machine.

Much later WordPress decided to adopt Likes on their website. The reasoning was much the same. Here is a site with hundreds of thousands of users, but many of these users continually write blog posts without acknowledgement. It’s no surprise that many bloggers give up eventually because they lose their motivation. Nobody comments on their blog posts, so they must assume nobody reads them, so why bother writing them?

Bringing in the Like allowed users to easily gain acknowledgement for their work. To feel their effort was worthwhile. As with most forms of communication though, there are ways to exploit the Like.

As I’ve said, when you Like a WordPress post it acknowledges a person’s work. The person feels good and their brain starts ticking. This stranger Liked my work, they took the time out of their day to look at something I made. This person must be a saint.

Curiosity burns in the back of their mind. Who is this glorious stranger?

Fear not, because there’s a way to tell who that Liker is. Go to their blog, read it, find out who they are. Maybe even comment in gratitude. So this creates a bit of a rule:

If you like somebody’s blog content, they will often visit your website.

This is a good thing, we want to gain friends after all, want to build community. However you can easily see how this could be exploited. If you want to gain readers for your blog all you need to do is Like posts. The more posts you Like, the more readers you gain. So we have a process.

Read blog post > Like blog post > Gain new reader

But then, reading blog posts is pretty time consuming and the only reason you’re doing it for is to gain readers. So why even bother to read at all? Let’s change the process a little.

Like blog post > Gain new reader

Now you have much more time to Like posts and you can gain readers quickly.

Of course, the Like has no meaning now, you didn’t read the post, all you did was Like it. That doesn’t matter though, because the blogger doesn’t know this. The blogger still feels good, still feels acknowledged. They will still be curious, they will still come to your blog. So you Like, Like, Like. As much as you can.

What you’ve effectively created is what I call “Like Spam”. You hit the Like button so much that it’s lost all real meaning, it’s now just a button that gains your own blog readers.

However this technique is incredibly manipulative. You’re using the emotions of others in order to get them to your site. I did an experiment for a few days years ago where I did some Like spam. Every day I would Like 100 blog posts. After a few days my traffic had grown by a huge amount. I had comments coming out of my ass. My views were spiralling out of control. Then I started getting comments like this:

Riba said:

I just stopped by to say thank you for “liking” my post, “The Gap Between My Selves.” I love your little story about the title of your blog, and the strong, humorous voice coming through in your writing. Thank you! R.

The truth is. I didn’t know who this person was. I hadn’t read their post. I was gaining lots of readers, but at the same time I was selling a part of my soul. I felt awful with myself.

Although my Likes were making tons of people feel good about themselves, they were built upon dishonesty. The Like spam seemed too unethical to me. The price was too high, I was selling myself out in return for appreciation. I stopped with the Likes.

Recently I’ve started to read some blog posts again. Partly because I’ve got so much free time (unemployed) and partly because I want to connect with other bloggers with similar life experiences. I read a lot of posts tagged with “travel” and “anxiety” as those are things deeply ingrained in me. I can never bring myself to just Like a post, I want to be more honest, so I comment instead. Liking seems cheap to me now.

But do you know what I’ve noticed? Other people picked has discovered Like Spam. Using the power of Like to their advantage. Manipulating the emotions of others.

Can I judge these people without judging myself? I’m not so sure. Can I call them out on their bullshit Likes? No, because Like Spam is something impossible to prove. However if somebody likes your post almost immediately after you’ve posted it, I think it’s easy to assume they haven’t bothered to read it. If a person has liked every blog post under the sun, they wouldn’t have had the time to read them all. They must be spamming.

Is this small act of dishonesty a good price to pay for success? You gain readers, maybe even money and all you need to do in return is pretend you Liked something. For me the price is too high, I’d rather be able to look my readers in the eye.

I’m proud that a handful of you keep coming back, not because I Liked your posts, but rather because you like me.

Whenever I check my emails I am overcome with a brief sense of hope.

This is it, I think, today I’ll get the email of my dreams.

Sitting in my inbox will be a message from the CEO of some fantastic company saying “Daniel, I’ve read your blog and I’m so amazed by your talent that I’m going to pay you a million dollars for you to lazily write one blog post a month for my company. Don’t worry about the topic, just do what you like. That’s how much we value you.”

A fantasy. I check my inbox and it’s empty. Obviously. People rarely email strangers about anything. Who would want to contact another human being?! Isn’t it strange that we live in an age where we’re more connected than ever but nobody can be bothered to communicate. That would take far too much effort. Why is writing an email such hard work?

Instead, we wait. Checking our emails every 5 minutes in the hope we’ll receive something to validate ourselves. Nothing ever comes. Nothing at all these days.

There used to be a time when I’d get spam. That would keep me somewhat happy. For a few seconds I would be one step closer to that fantasy email. My computer would ding, I’d know there was something in my inbox. An email, an email! This is it. Then I’d check and it would be an advert for Amazon or a cry for help from a Nigerian prince.

Tick. Delete. Tick. Delete.

The process gave my email purpose. It became a form of game. I had to check my emails because if I didn’t the spam would build up. My email existed solely for this process of ticking and deleting.

Then something horrible happened. Google started blocking spam. In one fell swoop I no longer had to tick or delete.

Nevermind though, I still had all that legitimate spam to give me meaning. Newsletters, social network notifications and promotions. They all kept me coming back to my email. Gave me some reason to continue.

Then more recently something even worse happened. Google started automatically filtering these emails into folders for me. I never read them to begin with, I just deleted them, but now I don’t even have to do that. Out of sight, out of mind. My email has become twenty times as easy to check, but also it’s now twenty times as pointless for me to bother with it.

I’m left with nothing. My inbox is now a barren desert. Its only purpose is to mock me. “Nobody wants to email you! NOBODY!”

I’ve literally gone for weeks while travelling where I haven’t been able to check my email, then when I finally manage to do it there’s nothing there. Google has sorted and separated it so efficiently that I no longer need to exist. It’s only a matter of time before they start to reply automatically to my emails for me. Then I might as well kill myself because my life will be so automated that it will no longer matter that I’m there.

The only thing I live for now is to check my spam folder. Maybe my dream email was sent there by mistake? But no, it hasn’t been. Just emails for penis enlargement and sexy ladies.

I guess the only way to receive is to give. Send out emails and you’ll get replies. But there’s no fun in the expected. Knowing you’ll get a reply takes away half the fun. There’s no surprise in that.

Once in a blue moon somebody sends me an email after reading my blog. I get a feeling of warmth inside. For a few moments I’m important! I’m loved. My email is validated along with my life.

Yet when it comes to hit reply, I waver. Am I really going to have to spend 10 minutes of my valuable time writing an email? Who can be bothered with that? I’ve got more important things to do.

Like checking my Facebook.

Hello my lovely DasBloggers (that’s what I call my readers.)

This is just a short post to announce that my girlfriend and I have setup a new travel blog called Anxious Travelers. Yes, we both understand that there’s a thousand other travel blogs out there. However we believe we have our own unique perspective on travel. We’re both pretty anxious people who worry a lot and that provides a lot of difficulties when traveling. We want to share those difficulties and put other anxious travelers at ease.

On the website there will be the usual travel blog stuff: guides, stories, opinions and photos galore. It might not be as serious as DasBloggen is at times, sometimes more informative, other times dare I say it – fun. There will still be the same thought provoking articles with incredibly high word counts that I write on this site though.

DasBloggen has been quiet for a month or so now because I’ve been working on the new site. We have around 30 articles just waiting to be published so there’ll be plenty of new articles to read and enjoy.

If you wish to view Anxious Travelers simply click here. <<<<< That’s a link although it doesn’t look like a link. Magic.

If you want to be informed of new posts you can either sign up to our mailing list here <<< or Like our Facebook page here. <<<

If you do either of these things I will be incredibly happy and may even orgasm a little.

We will now resume our normal service.

Moments ago, I was happily clicking away on Facebook when all of a sudden this popped up in my feed.

Screenshot from 2014-06-09 15:40:13

My happiness was immediately replaced with anger. The last thing I expected to see on my Facebook was the image of young women being hanged. The image instantly caught my attention so I read the text.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

What the fuck, I thought. My anger was quickly replaced with a feeling of outrage. What a place India must be.

In a matter of seconds I had gone from being blind, to all of a sudden having my eyes opened to the true horrors of India. Obviously I clicked the link to see what I could do.

I read the first paragraph, my mouth beginning to foam with rage.

I need your help. Two young girls were hanged from a tree after being gang raped in the fields outside their home in India and a minister from the ruling party just responded by saying that rape “is a social crime … sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.”

How could we live in a world where such gross injustices happen? Something needs to be done!

Thankfully, beside the writing was the perfect solution. A petition. I signed it feeling instantly gratified that I’d done something to prevent such horrible things from happening again. I then decided to share the link with all my Facebook friends so that we could all sign the petition together and truly help Indian women to escape from the torment of their society.

I closed the link knowing that everything would be all right in the world. I was getting hungry so I made a sandwich. Then I watched an old episode of Friends on TV. By the end of the episode I’d forgotten those Indian women even existed. But we all lived happily ever after anyway. The end.

Wait. No. Shit. That’s not what happened.

Ok, I saw the photo. Anger. Read the quote.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

Outrage. Clicked the link. Felt my rage building. I was almost over the edge, I was just about to enter my details into the petition’s text box when I had to stop for a moment. Went back to that quote one more time.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Like…you could almost say that at any one moment in India at least one woman is about to be raped, is physically being raped or has just been raped. That thought disgusts me, which is good, I wouldn’t sign a petition unless I felt strongly about it.

I’m inquisitive though. I just really love to do some maths. I wondered to myself, how many women are raped a day?

Let’s say three women an hour. Twenty-four hours in a day. Holy shit. That’s 72 women in the whole of India raped every day. Seventy-two! Fuck. Let’s sign that petition. Actually, no wait, that’s not enoough. How many women per year. Just for curiosities sake. 72 multiplied by 365 days. 26,000! Fucking hell. To put it into perspective that’s almost a whole stadium of women raped every single year in India. That’s disgusting, there’s no doubting that. That statistic is a fact and it’s a horrible one. Still, now that I’m buried in statistics I must continue.

I wonder, how many women are raped in America each year? Let me just check. Lalala.

The answer is almost 85,000. Hmmm. I’m getting confused. That’s more than India. A lot more. Actually, let’s go backwards. That’s 232 rapes every single day in America! That’s almost 10 rapes an hour. That’s a rape every 6 minutes! Chances are somebody in America, somewhere is being raped right now.

Then why is nobody saying anything about it? Where’s the petition to save American women from rape? America clearly has problems too, so why aren’t thousands of Westerners signing and sharing petitions about it? Here’s my theory – India is a developing, far away country and really it has no affect on us or our lives. Secretly, deep down inside we don’t give a shit about India. But when we’re suddenly confronted with this fact – say when we read a website detailing the horrors of India – we have to do something to prove to ourselves we do actually care.  So we sign a petition and that’s enough to make us feel like we’re doing something and that we really do care, honest!

America is too close to home though – heck, for some of us it is home. But if somebody brought the fact up to us that rape in America is just as bad, if not worse than a developing country most of us would just put our fingers in our ears and go, “Lalalala!” Not literally, of course, but we’d just shrug the information off and ignore it. Otherwise those same good morals might force us to take real action, heaven forbid we might actually have to do something!  Who the heck wants to take real action when there’s old episodes of Friends to watch on TV?

Still,I feel like doing more math. Let’s find out the percentage of women raped in each country per year.

Rapes per year divided by population of women

America – (85,000 / 161 million) x 100 = 0.052%

India – (26,000 / 600 million) x 100  = 0.0043%

So every year in America 0.052% of women are raped, where as in India it’s 0.0043%. Each percentage is pretty minuscule. So minuscule in fact that it’s hard to even care.  Once you turn all those women into numbers they cease to be women anymore. They have no names, no faces. They’re just a percentage.

We’re learning something here. If you want to use statistics to argue, don’t use a percentage. It’s too abstract. Not like

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

which is so lovely and graphic. Who is this “woman” who is being raped? You can almost picture her in your mind, almost feel her pain.

But how much can we really trust these statistics? Nobody knows how many women actually get raped in a country, these statistics are simply reported rapes. In other words, a million women could get raped in India each year, but there’s a possibility that only a small percentage of them are reported due to the systematic oppression of women in the country. Or (much less likely) less women could be raped each year because some of the reports may be false. So really we should take all statistics with a grain of salt.

The statistics aren’t used to inform or quantify the problem, but rather to create outrage. It’s so easy for us all to feel annoyed by the plight of women in India because quite frankly the majority of us know nothing about the place. We can easily imagine it to be some dusty hell.

America on the other hand, we’ve been there, we know it’s much like any other place, so it’s harder for us to believe it may also have a rape problem. Harder to create outrage.

With so little information about India at our disposable we have to base all our opinions on a sentence such as.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

It’s a trueish statement, but it’s sly because it’s used to create a world in our head based on our lack of knowledge and prejudices. We instantly believe India is a place much worse than it actually is.

Obviously, my issue here isn’t even connected to rape, but rather the use of statistics to influence our emotions as well as the instant gratification people get from what they believe to be charity.

I believe rape is completely wrong and if somebody gave me a button to end rape in India, I would push it. That button doesn’t exist though, yet I believe people online think of petitions (and other forms of Internet activism) in much the same way. They think you push the button and then the problem is solved.

At the time of writing 415,000 people have signed the petition and I’m sure it will easily reach the goal of 1 million. But what will have been achieved other than making thousands of non-Indians feel gratified by putting their name in a box.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This fucking guy right here, this smug self-righteous asshole thinks he’s better than us, but what does he do? Does he selflessly give blood to help AIDS sufferers? Does he donate half his earnings to orphans? Does he spend 10 hours a week helping the homeless?

No, I don’t do any of those things. I’m just as crappy as the rest of you. The difference is I know I’m crappy and have learnt to live with it. The question is: what’s your excuse? Oh, you shared a link on Facebook, I see, I guess you are a better person than I am after all. Good for you.

I’ll make sure to give you a wave while I’m in Hell and you’re in Heaven.

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A few years ago now, not long after my birthday, I wrote a blog post that I was pretty proud of. It was entitled, “The Annual Existential Crisis (Birthday)” and was essentially how every year my birthday forces me to become introspective about my life and how I  usually don’t like the results.

In the three years since that post, I have worked 4 different jobs in 3 different countries. I have had the happiest period of my life yet really nothing about my situation has changed.

I’ve now arrived in another country and I’m looking for another job and all those horrible thoughts and feelings are swarming back to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sitting around house-sitting for a few weeks and for the first time in a few years I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and think about…stuff. That’s the worst thing to think about.

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