There is a bit from standup comedian Aziz Ansari that I absolutely love about the age of smartphones. He discusses how we generally feel the need to have the best of the best, and often times we will research to no end in order to have it. His first example is perfect; finding a toothbrush. He explains that before leaving the house, one might stop and think, “wait, which toothbrush is the best?” They’ll go on Yelp, Google; absolutely anything to ensure that they find the best toothbrush. But let’s be real with ourselves for a second; how much does this actually matter? Who ever lost all of their teeth and said, “It’s because I chose the wrong toothbrush.” This bit came to mind when I read this line from the Travel 2.0 article: “Life is short, and how much of it can you devote to reading about or watching other people’s amateur videos?” Life IS so short; how much of it will we use researching what to do with it? Granted, sometimes it is nice to know that a restaurant is over or underrated, but our need to have the best of the best can often hinder us from discovering things on our own, the way it used to be.
I had an experience like this one day a week or so ago. Everything had gone wrong; my bus to school never came so I missed class (even walking to school would have made me late), so I figured I would go to the Pitti Palace in order to enrich my day. This, of course, was closed, so I sat down on the expansive piazza to read my book. And of course, I was interrupted by a beggar who then started to touch my hair and step on my clothing. Only after some locals shooed her away did I get some peace. I was not in the greatest mood after all of this, but I was determined to turn my frown upside down with some lunch. Here is where Yelp is often used; finding the perfect restaurant. But my battery was low, my service was not great, and I just wanted a nice lunch without spending a fortune. So I did what any person ten years ago would do; I resturant surfed. I went from place to place, glancing at menus and reading prices. I surveyed who was eating there, what they were eating, and if they were enjoying it. I used intuition. I shortly happened upon a place with fair prices and what seemed like a tasty menu, so I sat down. I must say, I’ve never had a tastier dish in my life. The octopus, potato and black olive salad was divine, my wine was perfectly priced, and I finally found my silver lining of the day, all without the use of Travel 2.0. While I still think it’s great to see ratings when you’re looking for a good hostel for a fair price, I agree that life is short and the best discovery is best served wireless.