Regrettably, I live in the 21st century. I have always thought I belonged to another time, but things being as they are, social media is a necessary evil. I share pictures of my child with my family through Facebook, I promote this very page through GoWild and I promote my photography through Instagram. And like everyone else, it’s a somewhat calculated and contrived persona I have created for myself. I am not posting photos of my pasty white beer gut or rambling on and on about the difficulties in my life. For those who don’t know me well, I live a life of joy and adventure with nothing but intellectual and spiritual pursuits. And I do live that life, but that’s only part of the story.
Studies show that anxiety and depression are on the rise, especially with the younger generations. I am not sure if we can diagnose social media as the cause, but there is certainly a correlation. When you constantly compare yourself to the carefully crafted images of your friends and media personalities, it’s hard not to feel like your life just doesn’t measure up. This is why, as a culture, we take such pleasure in seeing celebrities fall from grace. When we find out they have drug problems or cheat on their spouse, it brings them back down to earth from the stratosphere.
Wilderness is the perfect antidote to the virtual rat race. Not only is it healthy to get away from your devices for a while (please, please, please do not sit on a rock overlooking a beautiful vista and play on your phone, or blare crappy music from a Bluetooth speaker), but the clean air and exercise will make you feel better. If you do it enough, it’ll make you look better too. When you’re in the wild, you’re faced with no competition but yourself. No one knows how fast you hiked up that mountain. No one knows how labored your breathing was. No one knows what else is going on in your head. You only have to compare yourself today with yourself of yesterday, with plans to be better tomorrow. True growth comes in competition with yourself, not with others.
My daughter is growing up in front of a camera lens. I am partially to blame because I am constantly taking pictures of her and my wife. This will get worse once she’s older and into the world of phones and tablets. At least now she’s wise enough to say things like, “Dad why are you always taking pictures?” She understands there’s more to life than being in front of the lens. This is because we make a concerted effort to get out into the wild and I only take the camera out at certain times. It’s great to document our family adventures, but it’s important to experience them and be present as well. As the kids say, YOLO, you only live once. Do you want to spend your time living or do you want to spend all your time manufacturing a life you wished you lived?