Guidelines for Dealing with Selfie-Taking, Bison-Relocating Assholes in the Outdoors
It would seem that in the past few years, the internet has been abuzz with stories of tourists being unmitigated idiots. From the bison relocating incident in Yellowstone to the High On Life Sunday Fundayz bros who disregarded signs just to take footage of them bro-ing around the Grand Prismatic Spring, tourons (tourist + morons) are out of control.
So what can you do when you see someone acting-a-fool? Here’s what.
Be Polite (In a Brutal Way)
It’s understandable that you may want to yell, throw punches, or publicly shame these uneducated simpletons. Don’t. This only makes the situation worse. Instead, politely but firmly approach them and, with your very best shit-eating grin, explain to them why they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.
“Excuse me, sir, I notice that you have your tripod set up within 10 feet of that massive bull-elk. That’s an extremely powerful animal who just happens to be really horny ’cause it’s rutting season. I’d hate to see you get charged, or worse, humped to death by this majestic creature, so I strongly suggest that you move your camera and maintain a safe distance.”
“Pardon me, miss, I notice that you’re attempting to take a selfie with that black bear. I can see why! It’s razor sharp claws and flesh-tearing teeth certainly make it photogenic. Not to mention, it sure does look cool foraging for berries that it will need to sustain itself through a long winter of hibernation—did I mention bears are eating, killing, machines just before they hibernate. Any-who, stop. Just stop.”
And, a personal favorite:
“Why, hello there small touron child! I noticed you dropped your banana peel on the ground of one of our most beautiful national parks. This might seem cool because bananas are compostable and, yes, I do see that your banana is organic, but Leave No Trace Practices dictate that, well, you should leave no effing trace. So, pick it up and run along.”
Lead by Example (And by being really, really good-looking)
There’s no better way to get the ignorant masses to follow suit than by doing something the RIGHT way, whilst looking really, REALLY, attractive.
In other words, sometimes the mere presence of someone being conscientious in the outdoors encourages others to do the same.
Perhaps you’re on a camping trip and some members of your group are being litter-bugs. Without saying a word, start a recycling bag for cans and clean them up yourself. Designate another bag for trash and hang them on a nearby tree. Take a selfie with the trash/recycling bags whilst looking fierce and post for all the world to see.
You’re in a group viewing elk in Rocky Mountain National Park when you notice that several teenagers are getting much too close to the animals. Set up your tripod at a safe distance and begin taking pictures, then encourage others to do the same and, if necessary, approach the teenagers to educate them. If they don’t listen, get a ranger involved. Or roundhouse kick them in the face. Just kidding. Kinda.
Be a Snitch
Seriously. You call those park rangers faster than you would if you were trapped on a cliff with vultures circling above. Who cares if you ruffle some feathers? Ultimately, you could be saving an animals life, preventing a natural wonder from being harmed, or keeping a touron from winning a Darwin Award.
Also, get license plate numbers. See someone loading wood in an area that’s clearly marked with “no firewood gathering” signs? Get that plate number! Witness poachers hunting on private property? Plate number! Some dude next to your campsite isn’t using a bear-box when required, educate the shit outta him and, if he doesn’t listen, plate number!
Public lands belong to all of us and, therefore, we all have a responsibility to protect them. Think of the Lorax who speaks for the trees because they have no tongues…or some Dr. Seuss shit.
Offer to Help (Nothing snarky about this one…Just do it)
It might be painful, but the best way to combat assholery is by not being an asshole yourself. That being said, if you see someone in the outdoors who is clearly un or under-educated, offer to help them. Perhaps some novice climbers are using bad belay technique; step in and show them how it’s done. Maybe you stumble upon a campsite with a fire when there’s a fire ban. Instead of flipping your shit on them, let them know about the ban and why it’s dangerous. They may have honestly not be aware. It happens. See a hiker not cleaning up after their dog in the backcountry, offer them some poop bags and or clean up the poop after they’ve gone.
In the end, getting mad and being mean takes a lot more energy than being kind and taking positive action.
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