Leisure Traveling for 21st Century Americans: Mass Tourism as a Cultural Trap
Al. I. Cuza University, Iași
The majority of mass men in the American environment exhibit predictable and similar patterns of behavior as tourists. Pre-Industrial Revolution modes of traveling as liberation and exploration are now thwarted by the leveling effect of globalization and the illusion of information fueled by the all-pervasive mass media. Claims about the role of routine or the quest for authenticity are challenged as genuine motivations for mass tourism. Both the American culture and travel destinations in developing countries have authentic content that is largely ignored in favor of sensationalism and cliché. Excessive regimentation in the US creates the acute need for transcending to which popular culture finds accessible solutions through tourism: an experience of concentrated yet vague exoticism which feels liberating without yielding exploration. Travel destinations are shaped to American standards of material comfort and even adopt western popular culture icons in an effort to supply accessible familiar experiences of western entertainment. Various kinds of difficulty that once stimulated travelers are now relieved by travel agencies, rendering the experience of traveling less personal and more like TV entertainment. Old notions of space, time and reality itself are blurred in favor of a hyper-reality where fiction dominates.
Keywords: mass man; routine; authenticity; sensationalism; exoticism; predictability; material comfort; accessible experience; package holiday; hyper-reality