Istanbul Turkey is one of the most beautiful and historic cities I have ever visited. But it is not necessarily the most pleasant place I have ever visited. For example, the city is ancient, yet pre-Ottoman history is very, very hard to find. My wife enjoyed our visit, but she was constantly by my side. Women I know that have visited independently, even just gone out by themselves or with a few other women for a few hours, have reported a very different experience. If one is interested in history and culture visiting Istanbul is a must, but seeing the history and experiencing the culture is not a casual thing. And given recent terror activity in the city, it comes with hazard beyond the normal.
Tourism is a big part of the city’s economy, so the fact that ads for traveling to Istanbul started showing up on my Facebook after last weeks suicide bombing is not surprising, but one ad this morning was. It featured a young, attractive, blond woman, seemingly traveling alone, enjoying “street food” in a district just away from the churches, mosques and palaces that comprise the tourist heart of Istanbul, as if she was eating off a food truck in West LA. I was horrified. I would recommend Istanbul as a destination to anyone, but I would also tell a young, blond, attractive woman to make sure she had an escort. I’m not being sexist here – but they sure as heck are. I thought the ad crossed the line into deceptive.
That set me to thinking about the political ads that are beginning to fill our media as the election cycle heats up.
Ads and events like rallies and fundraisers cannot give one a full picture. Like the woman in the travel ad – she may have found the right vendor in the right part of town such that what was depicted was not “a lie” – but it sure painted Istanbul far rosier than it really is.
At this juncture all but the most die-hard would have to admit that the picture painted of Barack Obama through ads, events, and media in 2008 was far rosier than the reality. Even those that agree with much of his agenda would, if approached properly and privately, have to admit that his lack of leadership skill has done as much damage to the nation as his agenda has done “good.” He may have brought about a lot of change, but I find hope in very short supply.
If you plan to travel to Istanbul, I would strongly recommend you do research beyond the ads and brochures. Talk to people that have been there and figure out what to do so that you enjoy your visit and experiences and do not get caught in the negative experiences that some I know have had.
If you plan to vote, I strongly recommend that you do research beyond the ads and events. Hugh’s interviews are the best in the business, but even they are not enough. The contrast between how a candidate talks to Hugh and how he/she talks to another interviewer can tell us far more than even the answer to a question itself.
This is not the time in history for a last minute, quick impression decision. More than argue for and against a candidate, this cycle we need to advocate for good research and deep thinking. There is simply too much at stake.