How To Combat Outdoor Elitism

With the rise of social media, being outdoorsy has become increasingly “trendy”.  Places that were hidden gems are becoming instafamous, and so many more people are able to access and travel to these outdoor places.

But with an increase in outdoor-lovers, comes a sense of outdoor elitism:

outdoor elitism: noun: consciousness of being or belonging to an elite

While some outdoor people want to share the love of nature and their sport, others want to shield their passion…. that only a certain group of people are able to truly love and respect the sport of skiing, of hiking, of enjoying the outdoors, of mountain biking,  etc. Some think that because they have the nicest and newest gear, the best ski pass, or the inside scoop on the latest outdoor trends, that they are ultimately better than others in the outdoor space.

And I’m not afraid to say that I have fallen victim to these elitist thoughts, and I know I can not be the only one.

I see tourists wearing Vans and cotton jeans on a hike and temporarily judge them.

I see instagram influencer wearing Victoria’s Secret leggings and Lulu sports bras out in the wilderness, and think that they don’t look like they belong.

I see people wearing outdated ski gear and rental skis on the hill, and ask why even go skiing if you don’t do it more than once a year.

I have even thought that I was not hardcore enough to try XYZ sport. Or that I don’t have the best equipment, and I don’t want to do something because of a fear that experts in the sport will judge me. Or that I’m not outdoorsy enough because I’d rather work 9 to 5 jobs over outdoor seasonal work.

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So yeah, I’m just gonna come out and say that I have definitely thought all these things….  and looking back, it seems super harsh, both on others and myself. But I also want to say that I am trying to shift my mind towards a more positive way of viewing this booming outdoor trend, and I want others to do the same. We can work together to can create a world where people want to respect Earth and also people that belong to her.

The biggest shift is to override the judgmental thoughts. Literally just come back from every negative comment as:

At least they/she/he/I are out and appreciating the outdoors.

Unless people are not being completely stupid and putting themselves, others, or the environment in danger (which is technically a lot less judgmental and a lot more safety concerns), this is pretty much the easiest way to combat outdoor elitism. Whether it’s preventing you to help others enjoy the outdoors, or preventing yourself from trying something new.

I want to slowly switch my way to thinking because everyone can have access to the outdoors.

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Whether you just moved to a new place, and are looking for new spots to hang out.

Whether you are making your old gear work until you can save up.

Whether you are wearing an outdoor name brand or not.

Whether you are just learning a new outdoor sport.

We need to start working towards the commonalities instead of the differences.

We should want to ultimately share the outdoors. And the only real rule that we should really be focusing on is:

Enjoying the world while leaving the smallest trace possible.

And not worrying about how others are utilizing nature.

So next time you want to have negative thoughts about newbies or others in the outdoors, remember to take a deep breath, and figure out how to help the others around you. 

  • Create an environment of safety and excitement!
  • Spread the word of the simple leave-no-trace principle!
  • Welcome people into the outdoor space!

And hopefully it will lead to more people out appreciating and preserving our precious outdoor playground.

 

Til the next adventure,

 

AJ

2 comments

  1. Great post, and much needed!
    I fall foul of judging the hikers in flipflops and jeans. On the same day, I’ll have an awful case of imposter syndrome because I don’t get out as often as I would like.

    We need to be kinder to others and to ourselves. Getting outside is great, no matter how you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

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