Thursday, February 14, 2019

Not subject to my approval

Years ago, while my motorcycle buddies and I were taking a break on a weekend ride, another group of bikers rode by. That pack included a guy on a trike. I scoffed that he wasn’t a real motorcyclist. A friend replied, “Hey, at least he’s out riding. Besides, you don’t know, he might have a disability or something, in which case he should be commended.”

If you spend any time in online interest group forums—or real life groups, for that matter—you’ll encounter complaints that someone outside the group is doing your thing all wrong. Or (horror of horrors) the wrong people are doing your thing.

This attitude pops up in my community of full-time nomads. The following quote, referenced in a comment to one of my previous blog posts, is a good example tribal exclusionism mixed with I-was-into-it-before-it-was-cool hipsterism.
“For decades, nomadic living/van dwelling developed organically as people of modest means camped and traveled, while consciously rejecting bourgeois RVing. Now hordes of people without an intrinsic interest in outdoor travel have jumped on the bandwagon, and the humble nature of this life is quickly being corrupted. Hyper-materialistic/complex/convenience oriented builds, the rave party/festival atmosphere, and the lack of LNT ethics are symptomatic. I hope another shiny object emerges soon to draw these crowds away from nature.”
It’s funny how some folks who demand the freedom to live their own way can get bent out of shape by others living their own way. I plead guilty. I grumble about the wretched excess of huge RVs and mock the young, attractive, adventure-seeking, #vanlife people. But, hey, at least they’re out here enjoying the outdoors—in their own way.

After all, if you look the other direction down the Doing It Right scale, we modestly-equipped, motorized nomads are hyper-materialistic, convenience oriented, land defiling dilettantes to Edward Abbey types who believe only people like themselves should be allowed to enjoy the beauty of nature, on foot.

Sure, let’s all get righteously angry at those who are destructive and obnoxious. That’s a different issue.


  1. “You’re doing it wrong” has a corollary; “we can do no wrong”. Are “obnoxious and destructive” sufficient to define wrong? Maybe. Is amplified music disturbing other campers obnoxious? Is an excessively large bonfire destructive? Criticizing elaborate “builds” might be reverse-snobbery, but if wilderness only experienced by foot is elitist, do nomads support building more roads on public land? How about cabins for those who don’t own RV’s? The nomadic community could benefit now from more critical self examination, not less, and especially not less under the guise of “freedom”.

  2. What I do and how I do it is the only right way