BuzzFeed's "How not to look like a tourist" deconstructed (video)
Watch BuzzFeed's new video with advice for out-of-towners. But is following any of their tips a good idea? Let's find out, shall we?
Sun Aug 18 2013
It's high tourist season and sadly, the city does not give out hunting permits. (Joking, joking. Welcome, tourists! Enjoy our attractions and local quirks—try the fish!) So those merry folks at BuzzFeed have published a video with some helpful advice for how visitors can blend in and not irritate the hell out of residents.
While we have some underlying issues with the whole concept of not being a tourist when away from home—namely that you are a tourist, and there's nothing wrong with that; it's the nature of travel—we do love an exegesis of city life as much as the next local media company (and frankly we love overanalyzing another media company's attempt even more). So is BuzzFeed's advice any good? Let's watch the video, and then we'll take it point by point.
BuzzFeed says: Don't walk with your map out
We say: But do use your smartphone's maps app because street crime is down, and in this tough economy we need to stimulate the thieving industry. Jeez.
BuzzFeed says: Please don't wear this [an "I <3 NYC" T-shirt]
We say: Are there exceptions for wearing a version that's full of holes and pairing it with a beard? Wearing it in a knowing way is surely fine. Also, that's an iconic Milton Glaser design right there. Do you have a problem with Milton Glaser? We will throw down in the street over that if you do. Dude's untouchable.
BuzzFeed says: Or this [we think they mean sneakers?]
We say: Pretty sure everyone in New York wears sneakers regularly because we're not all swimming in emotionally intelligent listicle money and have to walk instead of taking cabs everywhere.
BuzzFeed says: Stylish but functional is the way to go
We say: Do they mean to say that there are no sneakers that are stylish? Guys, it's a subculture. Show some respect.
BuzzFeed says: [When crossing the road:] Don't hesitate. Confidence is key.
We say: Mercy me, please hesitate. Even when you're crossing with the light. Traffic fatalities are up (see this excellent New York magazine feature for more). Plus, don't walk out in front of traffic and make drivers or cyclists brake; do you know how much that snarls up the system? Instead, jaywalk, but only once you've looked both ways (damn you wrong-way riding cyclists), and are confident the road's clear.
BuzzFeed says: Know how to hail a cab: Step into the street
We say: Definitely do not look to see if you're stepping into a bike line or if a bike is barreling toward you at high speed. Bike messengers enjoy the obstacle you create—it keeps their reaction time sharp. And remember, confidence is key when convincing a jury of your peers that BuzzFeed should fork out damages for the physical and emotional distress the accident caused you.
BuzzFeed says: Don't just stop. WTF.
We say: C'mon—everyone does this. And am I the only person who takes delight in weaving skillfully through crowds showing off my catlike nimbleness and ability to turn on a dime? I am the only person? All right, pay attention to this one, but you are ruining my fun.
BuzzFeed says: Eat like a local [Fail to take a clean bites and have bits of food hanging from your mouth]
We say: Okay, this one is about folding pizza. Fine.
BuzzFeed says: If you see a celebrity, don't stalk them
We say: Okay.
BuzzFeed says: But totally brag about it on social media
We say: Don't do this. We still don't care which famous person you saw.
BuzzFeed says: Beware the grate and dresses
We say: Huh, so this is a thing? Snap poll of dress wearers in the office says: Yeah, good advice.
BuzzFeed says: Don't complain about how expensive things are, and tip well. SORRY, YOU'RE NOT IN EUROPE ANYMORE.
We say: Couldn't agree more. Prices are posted outside restaurants—if it's too much, try these cheap eats. Plus, our system for paying for service is different, and as far as we know no one's ever proved (y'know, with numbers and math and science) that one is superior to the other. It's always poorly researched opinion pieces (the tipping article is much like the Facebook experience article—every journalist gets to write one). Upshot being, don't stiff your server.
BuzzFeed says: Stand on the right and walk on the left [on escalators]
We say: Good advice, although this denies us the chance to make our "fucking tourists" face, which is one of the main ways we relieve ourselves of the stress of living here and feel like it's worth the high rents and expensive foo…Sorry, got carried away there. Never complain how much stuff costs. You'll look like a tourist.
BuzzFeed says: Look up directions before you go underground
We say: Unless you're on one of the lines with Wi-Fi; or you have the MTA Weekender app, which works when there's no signal; or you have the gumption to seek out the map on a subway car that is oh-so-conveniently placed right over someone's head, yet printed in a font size so small that you have to lean in and get all up in their personal space.
BuzzFeed says: Don't fumble [with your MetroCard]. Black stripe on the inside.
We say: Good advice, but not enough to avoid mishaps with the pace of the swipe, leaving us to sail on through while the fools are locked out of the transport system, looking scared and confused.
BuzzFeed says: Don't stare at people. He's rocking it.
We say: If they're wearing a samurai costume, they want you to stare at them. Make their day.
BuzzFeed says: Enjoy being a tourist
We say: Although don't look or behave like one? Mixed messages.
BuzzFeed says: Go explore
We say: Which apparently involves looking up and spinning around. You totally won't look like a tourist.
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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)