Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Social Media: Bane or Boon to Trail Running?

As part of the Trail Runner Blog Symposium, my next topic to tackle is Social Media, Bane or Boon to Trail Running?   Sadly, I don't have really strong opinions on the topic.  (Though I always have an opinion.)

I guess I should start by admitting that I'm not the most social media savvy person.  I rather dislike Facebook mostly because I hate the unoriginal ideas that people tend to share.  (Love to hear your thoughts, bored by the endless quotes and cartoon pictures of random shit that is propagated.)  And I'm not on Twitter, though I recently discovered hashtags and can't get enough of them.  #totallyrandomiknow

As far as trail running is concerned, I appreciate having a forum to reach a wide audience.  We can ask questions, invite people to meet up for a training run, and share different perspectives on the sport.  It's the fastest, easiest way to communicate about upcoming races, get feedback on a course, and hook up with potential pacers.  We can stay current on the races we are tracking or are interested in.  Locally, our trail running race directors, Aravaipa Running, post updates during races with photos and links to live video.  So when I'm working (which feels like always) I can watch my friends as they tackle a nice long trail run on a sunny Saturday morning. 

Personally, I like to keep some things to myself.  I sort of tuck away my most valued experiences and cherish them.  I will share my thoughts here, mostly because I view my blog as more of a diary, but often when I have one of those absolutely amazing, zen trail running experiences, I don't want to share it on Facebook.  It's mine.  I don't need or desire to have people knowing where I went, how fast I ran, whether the sun was in the right spot on the mountains for the photo op, who I was with, etc.  If you want to enjoy the trails, come run with me, don't just admire my photos.  And let's face it, pictures never do nature justice. 

I must admit, when I was gearing up to respond to the Blog Symposium invite I happened upon Vanessa Run's blog on the topic.  I was slightly shocked upon reading her story of Alec Zimmerman, the girl who went hiking in South America and was not on Facebook for 6 days.  She was reported missing and the FBI got involved in the search.  6 days.  Seriously?  I don't think anyone would even notice if I was missing from Facebook for 6 months.  But dear god, that is going overboard.  Don't you think?  With my work schedule, I'm 9 days on, 5 days off and I so look forward to those 5 days every 2 weeks to disconnect.  There is no computer in front of me.  I don't have to check my email.  I don't have to check in, anywhere.  Period.  Often I spend those 5 days training long hours and catching up on housework.  My family knows how to reach me, but even they are not worried if I don't respond immediately to a text or voice message.  We've gotten used to immediate gratification with everyone having a smart phone attached to their hip, but it never used to be that way.  Remember back to before your first cell phone?  Sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler, less overstimulated way of life. 

So, although social media sometimes feels like the bane of my existence, I think it's been pretty good for trail running.  Hopefully in the days of social media, we wilderness junkies haven't forgotten some basic common sense:  Let someone know where you are going and what time you'll be back.  Take a map.  Carry water.  And food.  Don't forget the food.

Happy trails!    

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