Stop Using Instagram as an Excuse to Be Entitled Assholes in National Parks

I grew up in Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most beautiful public spaces in the world. I have traveled to several beautiful parks in my lifetime but nowhere near everything I want to see. Yellowstone, Teton, Zion, Olympic, Mount Rainier, North Cascades are some of the National Parks I have spent time in. They are all very special in their own way. Our country also has vast National Forests and state parks that are available for a huge range of activities and exploration. These are public places we all own and have the right to respectfully enjoy. The last several years Entitled Assholes have abused these places and proudly shared their exploits.

Ken Burns calls National Parks our country’s “Greatest Idea” and I tend to agree. National Parks are huge commitment to protect and maintain for all to enjoy. No other country in the world has made the same commitment to public lands and National Parks as the US. Sure, many countries have nationalized places they try to protect and preserve but nothing on the same level as the US. Compared to China or Brazil and how they completely rape their natural geography, the US has a superior and incredibly long-term view. We aren’t perfect but as a country we are committed to long-term preservation and an unprecedented national legacy.

And yet our public lands are under assault from Entitled Assholes who behave as if the national parks, forests, preserves, sanctuaries and even state lands are personal playgrounds where rules don’t apply to them. Here are examples of Entitled Asshole’s attitudes:

I’m taking the closed trail and I don’t care about my safety or anyone else’s.

Animals won’t attack me.

I can spray paint and vandalize these rocks if I want to.

I don’t have to stay on the trail. I can drive my truck where I want.

I’ll pet and feed and take selfies with the wild animals because I don’t actually bother them. Plus they’re cute.

It’s not that big of a deal. No one else is going here or doing this.

I plan to set up my tent anywhere I want. Designated campgrounds are for losers.

My campfire won’t cause a problem even though there’s a burn ban.

You only live once and getting this shot is worth the risk.

Other people have done it and that makes it OK.

No one gets hurt so why do you care if I break the rules?

What’s driving this behavior? Entitlement is the disease and the symptoms are often expressed via Instagram and Facebook. People pursue the best shot for social media glory and me-too popularity. They want to show a place in unique ways. These entitled folks will pitch a tent in closed areas or trespass private property or harass wildlife simply to get the money shot. They will climb on top of a fragile sandstone rock formation regardless of the personal risk or whether they can knock down the rock. They will walk off designated trails and 225 yards into a fragile geothermal environments. It’s all worth it to get the money shot.

Because Entitled Assholism.

If you do these things then you too are an Entitled Asshole. If you condone this behavior you are an Entitled Asshole. Why do you think the rules don’t apply to you? Are you OK when others do these things because you are an Entitled Asshole Apologist? There is no excuse for this selfish behavior.

Nature photographer Kurt Lawson just discovered how Entitled Assholes drove on the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park. The location name is misleading as cars are not allowed to drive here. This is a highly sensitive environment which is well-marked that cars are not allowed. The damage will take years to disappear. And yet this happened.

There are plenty of other sad examples.

Casey Nocket is now banned from all US National Parks because of her vandalism, which she proudly shared on Instagram.

Maybe you think like these Entitled Assholes who destroyed a rock formation at Cape Kiwanda in Oregon. This formation was located on some sea cliffs that are fenced off and have claimed the lives of careless transgressors. And yet this happened.

Earlier this summer a group of young Canadian hipsters with a travel video blog had complete disregard for sensitive habitat in Yellowstone. Why? To get the perfect shot.

This crack squad of Entitled Assholes also illegally drove their RV through Bonneville Salt Flats. Why? So they could video water skiing behind their RV.

This Entitled Asshole attitude also transcends trespassing on private property. The Vance Creek railroad bridge in Washington is a prime example of Entitled Assholes pursuing glorious Instagram shots. Hundreds of people trespass on this private property every month to get their own Instagram shot and have that special “me too” moment. This bridge is on private property and the owners don’t want people encroaching on their land. It’s dangerous and deadly. But since other people have trespassed that makes it all OK. Because you only live once, right? That’s sad and pathetic.

Since many of these Entitled Assholes don’t care about respecting the environment, or rules, it’s easy to overlook the ultimate form of accountability — death. This young Entitled Asshole paid the ultimate price for walking 225 YARDS off the trail in Yellowstone.

I am sure many readers will rankle at my brutally direct message and frankly, I don’t care. There is no legitimate excuse for a complete disregard of rules at these places. It’s amazing to me how some people worry about companies taking advantage of public lands, and yet entitled individuals are clearly doing more harm. I am sure there are plenty of Apologists who think I’m an asshole for calling them out. That just reinforces they are Entitled Asshole Apologists. I hope we will all learn to respect our National Parks and public lands and private property rights. Get permission to access private property and respect the access privilege. Public lands are meant for everyone, and for future generations, not just an entitled few.