My aim in life is to try to become a better human being for each year passing. It isn´t easy. I have had a lot of time, a lot of chances and honestly, I haven´t done to well. Nevertheless, I keep trying. And the past 16 months have probably been the most important in my life. My time in Moss Side in Manchester, my journey in England and my time in Karaganda in Kazakhstan have been great teachers of life. And so has my time with my daughters.
In Moss Side and England I experienced all the best and worst aspects of human kind. On the overwhelmingly positive side, great people, a feeling of being in it together and one of the best multicultural places I have ever experienced. On the down side I saw the cruelest sides of commercialism, fear and bullying. A kind of an evil Tabloid land. Everything the tabloids stand for is the worst aspects of human kind. They cause fear, they are war mongering and create hate, bitterness, they bully, hang out people and ruin people´s lives just for the sake of selling copies.
Kazakhstan is kind of still in a time where they are moving from a Soviet Era into a new modern, Central Asian society where many people in my age, over 45, find life quite hard to understand. There´s no doubt that people helped each other’s more during the Soviet time, people were generally closer and they more felt that they had a common goal. Now many feel that everything has to do with the new God, Mammon. And, which is quite akin to any Asian traditional society, you have to sell yourself as being better than others to get a job.
My daughters have shown me that caring for others is more important than anything in life. Having chosen this type of life, which involves media to be able to survive and do what I feel I need to do –give a perspective of life and build bridges between cultures- I have been selfish, self-occupied, self-aggrandizing and I thank the Gods for having given me the privilege to have these two daughters. Without them I fear I would have been blind to the realities of life.
I am not judging others. Life isn´t easy. And each every one of us can choose their own path how to survive. However, I believe we all have a choice, no matter what, which path to choose. You don´t have to choose to do it the tabloid way and create fear, bitterness, hatred and cause others harm. Without generalizing too much, I have met quite a few people within the tabloid media and not one of them come across as content human being. They reek of jealousy, bitterness, cunningness, impatience and possess a negative judgment of others. They come across as they see themselves as better human beings than others.
And, my main point is that these last 16 months have clearly underlined for me that trying to make oneself coming across as better than others is extremely negative. And since all my Expeditions deals with other human beings and cultures as the main topic, an issue like this is even worse. So I am trying to figure things out. Basically how to survive in my line of work, without coming across in the wrong way for the people I am working with.
Because I have lately noticed in Moss Side and Kazakhstan, something I also have noticed earlier, that calling oneself an explorer creates a gap with many people you want to work with. In Moss Side and England, of course, being an explorer means you are most likely wealthy and belong to a class of which the people you meet feel they´re not part of. This is a problem. This happens way more compared to the other way around when it could be of help. This actually is very seldom. And in Kazakhstan an explorer is very often thought to be somebody either working for the government checking the inhabitant’s lives or trying to fool people out of their natural resources. Taking richness, but leaving nothing but sorrow.
So I am dropping my self-given title explorer. I have used it in the past mainly because somebody else within in the media gave it to me initially and it kind of covered most things which supported me. And it has stuck with me for years. But I finally realize calling oneself explorer today is quite out of touch with a modern and continuously developing society. Today I mainly survive doing documentaries and even though in England that work title caused fear due to, again, the mentality the fear mongering and inhuman tabloids have created, that is what I mainly do.
The reason I am sharing these thoughts is that I more than ever get emails from young people asking for directions how to become an explorer. And I see a change in what many of them are seeking. Compared to a few years back the main question was how to get sponsors and what they thought a way to make a living becoming famous. Today they ask how to rid themselves of the bonds of modern society and how to make a living out of travelling. Without touching the issue how to finance a dream for many. I see that a great step forward within the business of adventure travel and exploration. As a traveler with a camera.
And, like my favorite newspaper, The Guardian, I have freshened up my homepage. I have not only made images more important by changing the layout, but I have taken away as many things as I can see that creates divisions between the people I want to work with. Like figures of distances covered and most things within the bragging sphere. Not all. I still have a bit of a way to go.
If you have time, see the full episode below from my 2nd favorite news outlet that I trust, The Listening Post, who touches both tabloids and as usual, critically audit the world media.
And, a film maker I respect a lot, Adam Curtis, has written this great article about the British tabloids.
PS. Since my business is called Explorer Mikael Strandberg, I will keep that for the time being. I can´t afford a new name at the present. DS