Saturday, January 29, 2005

Just because some people are technologically primitive doesn't mean that they are socially unsophisticated. Even the most well-meaning people seem to make that mistake, perhaps based on a naive romantic notion that a more simple style of living somehow makes people less complex and therefore better. Besides being incredibly patronizing, this is unwise.

Travelers to societies radically different from their own should always remember that what they see is just the outer surface, like the exterior of a house. Learning to understand a society properly, actually getting into the rooms of that house, requires one not only to live in it but to really invest oneself in it, and a ghetto of foreigners is not good enough, mind.

Bu then again, many people have this tendency to go all starry-eyed about going native. Maybe to really understand a society, a culture, one has to grow up in it.

Then again, I could be wrong.