The desire for the journey

I’m keeping my entry brief tonight in lieu of finishing Gloria Steinem’s new book My Life on the Road, the first of hopefully many books that Emma Watson will encourage me to read via her recently started feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf. Steinem’s book, aptly named, is an account of her beginnings as a political activist and feminist; it is also her story of the burgeoning women’s liberation movement, coming to life around her as she traveled the country beginning in the 1960s. It is a book overflowing with a lifetime of wisdom, and one that you simply cannot read sans highlighting device.

In a year that I foresee radical change in my own life—in ways that I cannot know yet, but sense keenly, as an inevitability—Steinem is providing ample fodder for me to reflect on and draw inspiration from. While I haven’t yet written about it here, my mind is frequently on technology. Its merits and demerits; its effect on our brains and how we communicate (or don’t communicate) with each other; how it changes cities, especially the one I live in; whether humans will be able to use technology responsibly, long-term. In a section of the book where Steinem is discussing the notion of wanderlust, she muses on media’s role:

Perhaps our need to escape into media is a misplaced desire for the journey.

Phrased as such, it does not require a shocking leap of logic to reach this conclusion. Foremost in my mind after reading this sentence was the concept of FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—pressed upon us daily as consumers of “social media”. Many of us can relate to the feeling of seeing a friend’s travel experience recounted in images and feeling anxious to travel ourselves. Video games provide an escape into both historical and fantastical worlds. Books, too, can take us on journeys.

Gloria Steinem is wise to remind us that we can undertake our own journeys, rather than remain beholden to the experiences of others.