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On Douchebaggery

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In his seminal essay On Bullshit, Princeton professor Harry Frankfurt noted that our culture is rife with bullshit, but that “we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.” Thus we have no way of recognizing bullshit, or appraising its impact on our society.

I feel the same way about douchebaggery, loosely defined as the act of being a douchebag. To paraphrase various urban and slang dictionaries, a douchebag is a pretentious low-life, an asshole purely for the joy of it. Usually male, a douchebag is vain, smug, and entirely without empathy or sympathy for others.

Lately I find myself wondering why so many douchebags gravitate to Whistler. Is it the “Type A” personality, jock, adrenaline-junkie thing, or does it speak more to the resort’s desperate need for a constant stream of young, transient workers to staff our service industry? Is it endemic ski/snowboard/skateboard culture, or to our current youth culture as a whole?

A few weeks ago, I headed to the Whistler Disc Golf Course to squeeze in an early season round, slumping through snow, squelching through mud, and picking up a ridiculous number of beer cans and bottles that had been tossed everywhere. I probably missed three things for every item I picked up, but I’m planning on going back with a proper garbage this weekend to do a proper cleanup.

While picking up all this trash I started to wonder what this litter says about our town, and the douchebags that come here to live and play.

Where, I wondered, do these litter-tossing douchebags come from? Why did they choose to live in the mountains, close to nature that they hold in so much contempt?

Are these douchebags rebelling, and, if so, against what? Recycling bins? The environment? Reasonable expectations of personal responsibility and good conduct?

Are these douchebags just being shiftless and lazy? Do they think that someone has been hired to clean up after them, and that they’re creating jobs for muni workers?

Or are they just out to piss people off?

Whatever their reasons, it’s completely stupid. It’s really not that hard to pick up after yourself. The municipality has been kind enough to put a garbage and recycling bin right in the middle of the course so you walk right by it twice during a full 27-hole disc golf game.

In fact, the municipality was kind enough to build the course in the first place, trusting the public not to trash this free amenity or carelessly burn all of Lost Lake Park to the ground. As always, I’m sure it’s just a few bad eggs that are the cause of the problem, but that won’t matter if the municipality one day decides that it isn’t worth the hassle and closes the course.

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