Are We Forgetting The Real Reasons We Go Exploring?

Has exploring become an activity just to get likes on social media and to show friends you're adventurous?

Lets face it, social media has taken over how we interact with each other on a day to day basis. That is not a bad thing necessarily because look at how many cool places it has opened up for us explorers to travel and see. But has it changed the reasons we go out and explore now?

Think about these questions on why you personally go exploring and answer them truthfully for me. Do you go exploring because:

  • You want your friends and family to see how adventurous you are?
  • You love being outside and want to share these places with everyone?
  • You know that place you are visiting will get you likes and more followers?
  • You have to see some of these places for yourself as some of them look fake?

Let me take a few steps back now and paint you my picture so you know where I am coming from. As a kid (currently 26) I would go outside to run around the neighborhood or ride my bike down to the Ken Lockwood Gorge with friends to hangout. There were no smart phones, or social media for that matter. It was just a group of friends outside in the woods or down at the river having fun. We did it almost everyday because we loved being in those spots, exploring new areas we thought no one else had ever been, and we were away from our town/parents. It was all very pure.

Now lets jump into today, a day and age where everything is pretty much digital. As I said above, this is not a bad thing necessarily as it has allowed those who love to get outdoors to see all these incredible places in the world, prompting us to visit them. Case and point, in 2010 about 281 million people visited a National Park, 2015, about 307 million people according to the National Parks website. From 2010-2015 we also saw a big rise in social media platforms like Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, and the very popular Instagram. The visual exposure of parks  through social media I believed played a huge role in the increase in visitation. But are we visiting these places to escape into nature and unplug from our daily lives that are so consumed by social media, or are we doing it for Likes and Followers?

When I am out hiking or camping I pass multiple people who have their heads down looking at there phones, snapchatting friends or looking at how many likes the photos they just posted on instagram got. Hello...pick your head up and put you phone away you're missing everything around you. Not only that, when you put your phone away you start to have a conversation with those you are with, you stop and talk to others on the trail, or you start to sing like my friends and I do. You end up creating these moments that are more memorable than the views you've just seen.

So, I think, going out on an adventure is so much more than getting likes and followers. It's about connecting with those friends you are with, enjoying everything around you and living in the moment, and its finding out more about yourself too. Unplug from the digital world that surrounds us everyday because I promise you those likes you are so concerned about getting will still show up once you post your photo or video. 

Published: October 17, 2016

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Michael MartineauExplorer

Lake Placid