The Douchey Backpacker

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I dedicate this post to this high quality tequila which is bringing out my inner hater.

I’ve had a short burst of micro-excursions. NJ to Boston to NYC to San Diego and back to NJ within two weeks. I’ve been a bit busy to write in here but the gears have been turning. I’ve been thinking of the great number of people I’ve met along the way. Many of whom have left indelible impressions on my life. But not all have been intellectual or spiritual luminaries. A small portion of the people I’ve come across I’d classify as a douchey backpacker. I like to believe that being positive is generally better than being negative. I try to keep true to that whenever possible. But you know what? Fuck it. Here goes.

First. Is “douchey” even a word? I’m not sure but I’ll share my definition of it. It is the intersection of willful ignorance and brash arrogance. Wrap these qualities in skin and throw an overstuffed backpack on it and you have an archetypal douchey backpacker. The telltale traits are as follows:

  1. Unwillingness to learn a few key phrases in a foreign language. I’m not saying to be fluent. I am not even advocating being conversational. I am advocating to take the five or ten minutes to learn the basic greetings of whatever land you are visiting. I used to cringe every time I saw someone throw their dignity to the wind and smash their native language greeting down somebody’s throat. In an airport? Ok. In a tourist area? You get a pass. But out in the wild and trying to gaijin smash your way through every human to human interaction? No.
  2. Unfamiliar local cuisine is gross. You have your preferences. You have your dislikes. But the classic dinner-table grimace at what the local people eat on a daily basis is high grade douchey backpacker arrogance. Open up your mind and palate. Part of traveling is making yourself uncomfortable, not looking in disgust at something different.
  3. There is little sacrifice, thought, or goals in their traveling beyond being another Facebook photo album of selfies in foreign places.  Traveling is little more than a public display of their worldliness. Rather than using travel to expand their world view, the douchey backpacker smashes the world to fit their narrow concept of what the world is.

You know, maybe there is a little bit of douchey backpacker in all of us. After all, every wordly person starts out as an unworldly neophyte. Maybe I’m hard on the douchey backpacker because I owned some of those traits in the past. Perhaps this rant is my way of making amends for past douchey transgressions. In any case, my tequila is done and this train of thought has reached its destination. Ignorance is not a sin, but willful ignorance is.

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