Social Media & Learning to Hike Your Own Hike
We’ve all read the words thousands of times while perusing the various blogs put out by fellow hikers. They ring in my ears when I’m being passed by a faster person on trail or when I’m deciding whether to push on to the next summit or call it a day. I like to think it was easier to Hike Your Own Hike back when we weren’t subjecting ourselves to the stress-inducing world of social media. However, in an age where our every move can be shared with the world, there has been a shift in how we view our lives. We’ve fallen under the mentality that, “if it’s not posted on Facebook or Instagram, it isn’t worth doing.”
Unfortunately, I fell prey to the Social Media Monster.
As I was setting out on my fourth hike in seven days, it hit me. Who was I doing this hike for? I was tired, unmotivated, and not looking forward to the twelve mile day that was ahead of me. The trail was muddy, the forest was full of shadows, and I was all alone. I’ve learned to push through the desire to turn around on many hikes, but on this particular day, that desire overwhelmed me. One mile in, I did an about face and headed back to my car.
Two hours later, I temporarily disabled my Instagram and stepped away from all things hiking related.
As I was planning out my every move for my entire summer vacation, how many mountains could I squeeze into a two month time span, I realized I wasn’t doing all of this hiking for myself, I was doing it to prove to the world that I could, to post it out. It started to feel like hiking was becoming my job, not my hobby, and I had to take a step back.
I’m beginning to reflect on who I am, what I want out of life, and what makes me happy. I’ve immersed myself in the hiking culture for the past two and a half years and all of a sudden I didn’t want to have anything to do with hiking. I felt like I had lost myself, like I had lost the only thing I had ever been truly passionate about, my identity, and it made me feel empty inside.
So what changed?
Hiking had become less about the simplicity of it, the sheer joy that I felt when walking through the woods. It had become about checking mountains off a list and getting as many “likes” as possible on my social media accounts.
So I slowed it down. I took a step back and I’m gradually starting to reintroduce hiking culture back into my life. I am planning a hike in two days on a range of mountains I really enjoy and I may or may not post about it. As much as I enjoy other people liking my photos on Instagram, my motivation for posting about my hikes has shifted slightly.
Maybe it’s selfish of me, but sometimes I want to keep my time in the woods to myself.
I want to climb a mountain simply because I enjoy being out in the wilderness, not because it’s on a list or will provide me with a photograph to share on social media. I’m beginning to realize that I don’t need to beat others to the summit or try and increase my speed on the ascent to proved to myself that I’m a better hiker than someone else. I don’t need to forego taking a picture of a Lady Slipper or a stream because it may kill my average speed. The point of being immersed in nature is to take it all in, not to speed past it.
I plan on reactivating my Instagram account and continuing to post pictures from my hikes on there, but I’ve come to realize that I need to Hike My Own Hike, and if social media gets in the way of that in the future, I’d rather give it all up and go “off the grid” so I can keep my passion for the wilderness in tact.
“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim”. – Tyler Knott Gregson
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