Social media is bad for us! Social networking is good for our society! If it didn’t happen on the Internet, then it didn’t happen in real life!
We cry out about the good, the bad, and the ugly that is social media, and while platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram become a more integral part of our daily lives, there is no denying that there is a certain impact they create.
There is nothing wrong with posting a picture of a beautiful sunset or stellar rock climb with the intention to share the warm fuzzies with loved ones, especially in a day and age when we don’t get to see friends and family on the daily. Thank goodness for things like Skype and FaceTime. Applications such as these have made it possible for me to stay connected with the world and the people that I love in it.
Not only has social media allowed me to call my best friend in Germany every so often, but it has helped connect me to new people in a meaningful way. When I traveled for twelve months alone, it was a means to meet climbers on the road instead of solely relying on showing up in random parking lots (which I sometimes still do).
And ultimately, it was a way for me to share my experiences with people that I cared about. I wanted my mom to see that beautiful sunset. I wanted to share that picture of the cookie tower I built that I was so proud of. I wanted to share my enthusiasm about climbing with anybody who was also enthusiastic about climbing. These are all essentially good things, right?
The amount of digital information that reaches us has increased profoundly in the last decade. We’ve entered an age of technology that there is no turning back from, and our interpretation of things (pictures, articles, et cetera) is based on our own personal experiences. I was told once that one of the most frustrating parts about writing is that ninety percent of what you put out there will be misinterpreted. I’ve found this to be undoubtedly true.
What I am trying to say is that my social media life is not my real life, and I have never been under the misconception that it could be a replacement for real life. I am trying to say that I’m deeply sorry if anything I have written or posted has ever implied anything but the truth. When I spent twelve months living on the road, traveling from crag to crag, most of my posts were fairly accurate to what was actually happening at the time.
A friend asked me at the ice festival in Ouray this year if I worked at all. I’m assuming he was referring to all of my social media posts regarding climbing and building human pyramids and dogs wearing funny things on their heads. I laughed and said: “I’m not going to bore the Internet with the traffic I had to sit in yesterday or how I think I was overcharged for my cup of coffee.”
No matter the social media platform you choose to use, there will always be gaps. There will always be missing context from your storyline. People will find a way to fill in those gaps for you if you don’t articulate your message.
So here are the facts: I moved out of my vehicle and back into an apartment in the fall of 2015. I live with a snuggly fish face kitten and the most kind-hearted roommate a girl could ask for. I occasionally make a few bucks from my writing, but my bread and butter comes from working in childcare. I went to school for education, took a teaching job in Colorado for a brief moment but decided after a few months, that it wasn’t the right fit for me after all. I currently work about half of the week and try and fill the other half with climbing. Most days, it still feels like a process but I’m still piecing it together, slowly.
The fact of the matter is, a vast majority of us can’t be climbing seven days a week. I’m certainly not. Even if that’s what our social media persona makes other people think, it simply isn’t true for many of us.
Social media makes it difficult for us to distinguish the meaningful relationships we wish to foster in the real world. This year, I took a step back and thought to myself: “If I give any of this too much of my time, it will steer the focus away from things I wish to do, the people I really love, and the relationships that I want to nurture.”
I’ve tried not to use social media as a cure for boredom or a place to spray, but rather a place to share my thoughts with those interested in hearing them. At the end of the day, that cool route was still climbed regardless of the filter used and the same sunset was shared around the world. These are beautiful, unavoidable truths.
Cameras can only capture so much, anyway. They can’t capture belly laughs or that feeling in your gut you receive when you finally reach the point where the summit meets the sky. Incredible things happen, undocumented and unfiltered, everywhere in the world at any given moment. What the evening dusk tells me as it falls around me in ethereal beauty is: How we live our life is far more important than how we say we live our life.