The Comment Section, Travel, and COVID 19

COVID 19

Get Your Popcorn & Wine Ready

Yes, we should stop traveling for the moment — but we need to respect other’s situations. (Photo by Kayla Meets Culture)

I’m a part of one of the largest solo female travel groups on FaceBook. I don’t participate much, but I enjoy living vicariously through other solo female travelers while I base myself in Taiwan for an indefinite time.

I wrote about my initial fears of the Coronavirus in early February when only a handful of countries outside China detected it.

With the recently declared pandemic status, I’m glad I made my visa run last month — the fear of traveling (and maybe not getting back into Taiwan) would be more real than last month.

The Juicy Bits

On to my main point — the travel group I’m a part of on FaceBook is poppin’ about COVID 19 and last night I read one of the most intense comment threads yet.

This group, which is supposed to be women who support each other, became a battleground of controversy as to whether one should be traveling or not.

Let me start with a summary of the initial post.

A girl who traveled 20+ hours to a destination was rejected to stay with her boyfriend and his family due to fear of COVID 19 spreading in a country with little resources to contain it.

Out of respect for her situation, I won’t add more details, but you get the gist. With her post, she sought advice on what to do: go home or stay and travel solo?

I dove into reading the comments which had already reached over 700. Holy shit. Could the girl even keep up? Probably not. For every 10 comments, you got the same points of view.

“Go home! This country cannot handle COVID 19 if it spreads. How selfish some of you are to travel for the sake of your own enjoyment while people could literally die because of you!”

“Go to ‘insert city name’ and get a hostel! There are many tourists and it’s lovely. Enjoy your stay.”

“Wow, it’s the middle of a pandemic and you’re traveling? Should have known better. How can I feel bad for you?”

“Book a tour company and enjoy yourself.”

“I would suggest going home, it’s not safe for the people here and there is always the possibility the borders will shut down and you’ll get stuck here. The healthcare here isn’t great either so if you do have it or get it it’s possibly better to be in your home country.”

“Self-isolate for two weeks and then go enjoy yourself. Oh yeah, and dump that trash ass boyfriend.”

“I can’t believe the women in this group encouraging you to stay! Even if you are healthy you can put others at risk. Don’t encourage selfishness, we all need to realize it’s best to not travel in the meantime.”

These are not real comments by the way — just the idea of what they conveyed.

I chimed in around comment 750, saying,

“This thread is lit, ya’ll. Can the original poster of this thread even keep up? I think every viewpoint has been presented at least 10 times.”

Seriously though, if you are comment 500, 600, 800, why are you even commenting? Unless you’re from the actual country she’s in, I don’t see how you’re adding value.

Some were trying to help, others being dicks, and it was a clusterfuck of passionate solo female travelers in controversy.

I felt bad for the author.

First, how could she keep up?

Second, the hundreds of comments ranging from “You’re rightfully being rejected by someone who loves you after flying 20 hours, go home” to “Enjoy the country, here’s what I suggest, blah, blah, blah,” would have me feeling more perplexed.

Most of all, I’d be beating myself up over all the women who are just guilt-tripping me while offering no advice.

But I’m not the author, so I can’t speak for her. It’s just what I perceive and assume, just like all the others who made comments based on their perceptions and assumptions of her, her relationship, and her situation.

The thread had over 900 comments before it was shut down by the moderator.

The comment section, where everything, and yet nothing matters.

While I was feeling like that GIF of Michael Jackson eating popcorn with the quote “I’m just here for the comments,” I’m genuinely happy the thread was closed to comments.

What started as someone’s needs for genuine advice turned into a wildfire of compassion, disdain, and judgment.

At no point in the thread did I see a comment or update from the author, which is fine. She doesn’t owe us anything, I just hope she made the right decision for herself.

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