Social media is one of those things that it is easy to have a love-hate relationship with. It can connect you with friends who are far away and help you to hook up with people who share your passions, all the while making you a slave to showcasing yourself in the best possible light and fuelling the festering sense that you might not be quite as badass as your badass friends who are, in fact, suffering from the same simmering insecurities as you are, which is why they are posting all the time about how badass they are.
In this provocative blog post, Mitch Joell argues that we put stuff out there into social media land for two basic reasons: (a) we want people to think our lives are more badass than theirs (he doesn't actually use the term badass probably because he's not a climber, if he was, he'd be concerned with looking badass), and (b) we want people to think our lives are more badass than they really are.
I think this is largely true. You never see anyone spraying on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media about how they went for a nice relaxing walk along the river/beach/forest with friends accompanied by a picture where they are dressed in their oldest most daggy sweat pants with bed head. That would be so non-badass. Instead, people update their status with a story about how they just ran 50 km up and down several mountain ranges before breakfast accompanied by an air-brushed photo in the snappiest looking togs and glowing with good health. I wish even my best clothes looked as good.
No-one ever posts about going out for an easy scramble up a handy mountain (something we'd call NTD in the old days and be somewhat embarrassed to admit climbing) a few hours from civilisation. Not badass enough. Instead they are in a "remote" area, climbing a "seldom visited ridge," "pushing outside their comfort zones" to overcome almost insurmountable difficulties in reaching the summit - yet somehow arriving back in time for nachos and beer at the local designer brewery. The casual sea kayak trip across a flat ocean becomes an epic voyage fighting 40 knot winds (there are some folk out there who are really fighting 40 knot winds, but they aren't spraying about it), the casual day at the local crag climbing a few favourite routes becomes a big day red-pointing, pink-pointing, flashing, onsighting all within reach of the car bumper. The ski runs at our favourite yo-yo hill somehow morph into epic descents down powder filled colouirs dodging death by avalanche. Don't even get me started about those fucking selfies.
Years ago, some weight loss guru, who has since shrunk (no pun intended) into obscurity, put a book out there called "Stop the Insanity." It is time to stop the insanity. To stop the endless narcissistic posts/updates/photos of our carefully crafted images sliced, diced, pruned, and spruced for public consumption showing us at our most badass.
So here's my non-air-brushed, bicycle helmet hair, 51 year old, hardly svelte, more like stocky, face-pulling while making the final moves to tag the finishing hold self about to peel off what is likely a super easy route (I have no idea of bouldering grades but this is probably a Vnegative5) totally pumped, and, as you can see wrinkled, gray haired, clearly not badass, more like mediocre. I haven't just run 50 km, more like biked 10, and, after bouldering for an hour, I'll go back on home and enjoy a quiet cup of tea.