This picture of a person chasing a bear is humorous.
In real life there is NOTHING funny about a person chasing a bear.
Tourist+ Moron= Touron
What is a touron? I will attempt to shed light on that term and how it came into use to the best
of my knowledge and ability. Back about ten years ago on the internet there was a National Parks
info website. It had a message board for each National Park including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I began using it to trade info and find hiking partners etc. It was a good resource and I found
answers to many of my questions. I made some real life buddies and got to go on many hikes especially to
off trail stuff I'd have had a hard time finding otherwise. I recall back then some person and I believe it
was a man began using the term "touron" to describe people doing dumb things in the National Parks.
Based on what these folks were doing I had to agree, but I never stopped to consider further on that.
Yes, they did fit the moron behavior. A person down in Cades Cove chasing deer or bears is a moron.
They are harassing the animal and putting themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. It is also illegal!
The question that did not occur to me until later was "Were they really a tourist?". I don't know.
We all assumed the only persons who would chase wildlife in the park would be non-locals.
A tourist in the area who had never been around wildlife and was ignorant would be the only person who
would do that, right? I still don't know. History has proven that is largely the case. It doesn't mean it is always an out of towner. It could be a "local" who has hit the fool button.
Fast forward a few years and the National Park message board system has gone defunct.
Incidently, Jenny Bennett told me it is now back in use, but I have not found it. What I did find was not
too hopping and cool like the old board. I'm not sure at all I found the right thing. Instead the Knoxville
News Sentinel has a website called Gosmokies. It was begun by Jigsha Desai. It has turned out to be a
great resource that I like far better than the original website in days past. What it has in common with the old message board is that it is a wonderful place to trade information and meet people to go hike with in real time! I've met and hiked witha dozen or more people on that website! I've made friendships I hope will last a lifetime. I've made memories with these people and bonded with them over difficult patches of my life. Over hikes that would make you cry with their beauty and difficulty. The term touron persisted and got
dragged out over there now and again. It is JUST the internet though and that makes it ok.
Does it really?
Today in our world we more enlightened souls try to avoid using terms that are racial slurs.
Nigger, whitey, honky, spic, wetback , retard, queer are all words on the No no list of political correctness.
It is as it should be. Words like that are hurtful and degrading. They reduce people to stereotyped labels.
Touron as a general use term is used to label people who are non local who do various dumb things.
It has come to my attention recently that there are folks who are non locals.. tourists.. who find it offensive.
They feel it should not be used. It is the internet we're talking about, but there are real people on the
other side of that screen. They have real feelings. It is probably best to avoid using the term touron
simply because it does offend and hurt people. I have been guilty of using the term myself when I get
annoyed with the shenanigans of some folks I see. Today as back long ago..I can see for myself they fit the moron bill. They're doing something moronic. Chasing wildlife. Causing bear jams. Getting into the middle of the road.. the ONLY place I have to drive.. etc. But today as back then....... I don't KNOW if they are 'tourists". They may be a local person who has gone stupid. With that in mind... since I don't know and since I DO know the term offends people I will refrain from using it. We all should.
Let me say this about the term touron though. It does not discriminate. Anyone can be one.
It doesn't matter about your race,gender, sexual orientation, if you are a real tourist or if you are a dumb local! It is used because it is earned and most times richly deserved. Use the term, but use it to the face of the person doing the dumb deed AS THEY DO IT! Perhaps it will do a little good then. It certainly is not doing any good on a website on the internet. Many or all of the doers of the really dumb things won't ever see your discussion about them and their stupidity or what you call them! Instead other nice tourists who never do that stuff will see that term bandied about and get their feelings hurt.
I will take it a step further and tell you I personally believe there are levels of touronism.
It doesn't matter to me if you're a real tourist from out of the area.. or a local person who is a dum dum.
I will spread the term around evenly. I will tar local and out of the area with one brush. Moronic behavior
knows no bounds. Let me preach on it. Read below the levels for just a few examples.
Level 1 Touron-- Local our out of the area person who sees a photo posted on a message board or
facebook WITH a label stating where it is. Asks "Where is this?" because they are far too lazy to google it
and find out even the most basic information. Such a person if they are too lazy to even look up the most basic info.. is probably too lazy to actually go there. Add to level 1 touronism... the local person
who NEVER avails themself of any of the wonders or natural beauty in their area. You've got millions of people all across the world wanting to come to your area because it is so gorgeous... yet you never get out
of your car?
Level 2 Touron-- The litter bug. The causer of bear jams. The failure to use the pull offs in Cades Cove.
I've seen locals and non locals do both! The guy who took a dump in the middle of CS 30 before I got there and laughed about it..... Karma is a bitch. It will come back to you mutha. Bet on it.
Level 3 Touron-- You come to the Back country office and want the staff to plan your entire trip for you.
You stand at the counter for a couple hours as if you are scared to death to leave to go into the woods.
Perhaps if you stand there long enough one of the volunteers will go with you and hold your hand? Come on man! Don't be such a pussy. There! I said it! Another not so nice label for you.. pussy! and you are one!
Level 4 Touron--The climber around on waterfalls for that just right photo op. The nincompoops who
climb up on waterfalls and peer over the verge for "Lookit me! Take my picture! I'm having a great time
in the Smokies!"...Locals and non locals have done it and continue to do it. They are tourons. Tell them so.
It may not sink into their heads, but it may save a life. Tell them then and there... not later on a message board. They will not read it or hear it if they are in the morgue, funeral home, or laid up in the trauma unit.
Level 5 Touron--The chaser of bears, deer, wildlife in Cades Cove or other areas of the park.
The man who took the fawn away from the yearling bear by force is a prime example. The bear and the fawn both lost. The man faced a $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail and was PISSED he was being arrested because he believed he was doing the right thing. He was not alone. He had help in this from other tourons! He was the only one charged though. Yes, this really happened.
Add to level 5.. the local yokels who poach bears and wildlife in the park. Poachers of ginseng.
Diggers of plants. Takers of dogs into the woods and onto trails where they KNOW they are not permitted.
People who vandalize with graffitti or carvings. Set fire to the woods to conceal their pot crop from FLIR.
Horseback riders who fail to follow rules of the trail system. Bring horses into areas of the park where they are forbidden such as taking them directly across the top of Gregory Bald when they are to STOP and tether them quite a ways back from the top. The stopping point is back about CS 13 people. Mountain bikers who bring bikes onto trails where they are not permitted. The only trails OK for bike use in the park is Deep Creek on the NC side.
It is a touchy subject. I've grown to see that tourists.. the good ones have immense value to us all.
Good human beings. Good stewards of our natural resources don't come as ONLY locals or ONLY non locals. Like everything else in life they come from all over. No hard and fast rules. Non locals .. tourists who love the area are awesome! They bring a zest and a zeal that is contagious. It reminds all of us
how fortunate we are to live here. It brings fresh enthusiasm to make us want to get out and see and do and enjoy! Seeing others love a place like the Smokies and enjoy it and take good care of it is wonderful.
Many who are now "locals" did not start out that way! We moved here because we loved it.
We are transplants. Touron as a term... lets put it on the list of terms to avoid. However........
like I said... if you're gonna use it.. use it to the face of the doer in a timely fashion for it to have the desired effect and have it stick to the person it was aimed at!
As for non locals... who come to the area and visit once or many times... and who do not engage
in the dumb activities... it is not aimed at you. Never was. If you're feeling like it was about you... and you're guilty of the above mentioned behaviors. Sorry bout your luck. Smarten up.
In this day of Facebook and Social memes... Here's one for ya.