Tourist Zombie Syndrome
The Tourist Zombie Syndrome
by Dean & Laura VanDruff
These, my friends, are examples of Tourist Zombie Syndrome. This madness comes over people while traveling when one begins to admire and do things that otherwise have no value and would be considered daffy if not on holiday.
- An otherwise sensible person takes a picture of a duck, when there are plenty of nearly identical ducks back home if such were of intense interest.
- A reasonably stylish person with otherwise good taste goes shopping for hours on end to by a cheap tourist trifle that will clash with the expected décor back home.
- Dean: "Let's go over this way."
Laura: "Why, what's over there?"
Dean: "The tourist map says its Mortimer McCloud's boyhood home."
Laura: "Was he a painter? A poet? A despot?"
Dean: "Don't have any idea. Never heard of him."
Laura: "Let's go. Maybe we can get some video."
Pictures, video, and other artifacts of Tourist Zombie Syndrome are sure to be foisted on hapless friends and family upon return. "And here is a shot of Mortimer's childhood furniture when he was only 5 years old. Who is Mortimer, you ask, and why did we take all this footage? Well, I am not sure, but he must have been someone important because they say he was."
To help get a firmer grasp on what Tourist Zombie Syndrome is it may be helpful to describe what it isn't. It isn't taking risks, trying new things or going native, necessarily. Wearing strange new clothes or trying a new hair-style or doing something out of the ordinary can well be a useful stretch of an otherwise stale personality, and part of the beauty of vacationing is that we can experiment with such away from people we know. What differentiates Tourist Zombie Syndrome from normal vacation license is that what is done is completely absurd, worthless, or otherwise zombie-like behavior. We are talking about purchasing wooden shoes here. We are talking about milling around a graveyard in the rain to see the tombstone of someone you don't really know or care much about, when you would never do this in your home town--where you do. We are talking Zombieish behavior, as if some strange force has commandeered your body to do very silly things.
When we first conceived of this as a distinct psychosis, we termed it the Tourist Bimbo Syndrome, which is an alternate name for the phenomenon. But we came to like Zombie better than Bimbo since it is more like a trance that you enter into--even if you are not otherwise prone to such--where Bimbo denotes a more permanent state of diztiness. But both have a certain appeal in the moment, and perhaps application. The basic question is, "Why am I doing this?" To either Bimbos or Zombies, such questions do not compute. The difference is that Bimbos always travel as flotsam, where Zombies occasionally do. We thus speak to the Zombies, as the Bimbos are a lost cause and it would be rude to make fun of them.
Having been oft caught in Tourist Zombie Syndrome ourselves, we have tried to analyze the reasons for it.
So when you next find yourself (or a travel partner) on vacation falling into the Tourist Zombie Syndrome, perhaps you will remember this article and be able to snap out of it BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
- Boredom: On vacation, we have a lot of free time on our hands, which some of us are not used to. Restlessness can set in. If this occurs, doing anything seems better than just sitting around, even if this was the idea at the onset. As a result, decisions can become rather woolly-headed, and we find ourselves seriously considering the purchase of a tacky travel icon ensconced in a beautiful crystal snow-ball.
- Groupthink: This is a sort of tourist herd mentality that can be deliberately manipulated by travel hucksters who play on our curiosity. If other people seem interested, then it must be worthwhile. So you tiptoe up in vivid expectation to a group of people and crane your neck to see a street performer doing something that if your neighbor did on his unicycle you might yawn.
- Rationalization: When we find ourselves slipping into Zombie mode, rather than say "this is lame" we often try to find some justification like: "It's historical," or "Everyone else seems to be doing it," or "It must get better, later," or "Maybe it is just me," or somesuch. This is the point of no return. If the brain does not assert itself now with a lucid "ridiculous", you're a goner.
- Travel Expectations: The motive here is that we fear someone might ask us if we saw the whatchamacallit, and we would be found wanting of a picture and thus look like travel duds. So, like zombies, we must follow the standard tourist script so that we don't get that panicked look on our faces in the event someone were to say; "So, you went to Touristica. I hope you did not miss Mortimer McCloud's boyhood home?"
- Trinket Gifts: We just know that certain people will expect a gift when we get back, so rather than enjoy our vacations we invest an insane amount of time shopping for useless tourist paraphernalia. You have reached the Zombie zone when you are convinced that your sister will love these gold painted Eiffel Tower earrings.