Vanuatu’s Heart: Full Of Love Or Hate? In my quest to travel to every country in the world, I visited the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. While on the island I had a health incident which I detail in this port. This post of my experience began to make the rounds on social media and was met with much negative feedback. Most readers missed the nuance of my visit to Vanuatu.
For those attempting to travel to every country in the world, many debate what counts as visiting a country. Some in the chasing 193 community state you must get a visa stamp, others say you must stay overnight, and some have a rule of drinking a local beer. While I spent two nights on the island, I only saw three landmarks; the airport, the hospital and my hotel. I spent the vast majority of my time lying in bed. The trip that I was highly looking forward to; snorkeling in crystal clear waters, standing at the edge of the active volcano Mount Yasur, and meeting local people never came to fruition due to my health condition. So my post, Have I Really Been To Vanuatu was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
In my post, I touched on the hospital standards at Vila Central Hospital. As you might imagine, this island nation of 270,000 does not have the same levels of excellence in medical care as you would expect in a city like Boston, Sydney, or Bangkok. (In fact, one of the biggest advertisements at the hospital was for emergency air evacuation off of Vanuatu.) This is just common sense, and not meant as an insult. And while I was in the emergency room at the Vila Central Hospital, I imagined the challenges the locals had in receiving medical care. It must be a scary situation if you have medical needs in Vanuatu and potentially the local medical facilities are unable to help you.
Most of this was lost on the many people who commented on my post on social media. Some questioned my judgement, many insulted me, and others wished me death. Very few acknowledged that medical care is limited in Vanuatu or were concerned about my well-being. Stating the obvious, social media provides anonymity and is a conduit to a high level of vitriol, hate, and victimhood.
Here are some of the comments my post received from a Vanuatu Facebook group. So this group is called Yumi Toktok Street News and my post was placed in this group. All the comments you will see after are from this thread. It is an interesting mix of insults and threats. The comments come from old and young (and apparently even some loving grandfathers), government workers and teachers, women and men. Some people take the time to be creative with their threats or insults, while other people offer just crude attacks.
There is an incredible amount of irony in all of these attacks and threats. Vanuatu in 2016 was voted the 4th happiest country in the world according the Happy Planet Index. If you shared with me that a nation was voted 4th happies, I would imagine the citizens being easy going and happy go lucky. So it was quite odd, that a commenter would tell me he comes from the happiest nation in the world and in the same breath wished that I would die. So I have curated some of the best comments below.
SirTam Melz reaches out with a creative insult (meat sack)
Brn Livo wishes I died during my visit. Doesn’t make a great tourism slogan.
This loving grandfather promised to curse me with the local doctors if I returned.
I like Walter’s creativity. He takes Vanuatu’s number one attraction, an active volcano and threatens to throw me into it.
Another well wisher, La Donia, that hopes I die.
A series of comments here, from conspiracy to some basic insults.
Dky decides to blame me for randomly getting sick while visiting Vanuatu.
There are many other comments on this thread you can check out as well as my original post on my blog that you can check out.
I was planning and hoping to return to Vanuatu. I really was looking forward to my original trip. After reading the comments, there is a small part of me that would second guess my decision after the level of hate (and a couple of death threats).
Vanuatu’s Heart: Full Of Love Or Hate?