Growing up in the 90s and coming of age in the early 2000s, the concept of surfing was remarkably different.  Something else is also different; social media.  AIM ruled the day as people still had to pay per text and Facebook lacked a news feed.  Facebook users wrote in mostly complete sentences, there were no politically affiliated organizations, and selfies were confined to profile pictures.  It was also much more time-consuming to get a photo from the point of it being taken to its internet destination.  You also had to obtain a college email address just to participate.  Essentially, tuition and/or a signature to debt was the price to play Facebook.  Obviously, things have changed.  Now it is incomprehensible to think of anyone having a positive moment without it making it to Instagram.  Still, most people have some sort of boundary of what they deem inappropriate to post online.  For some it’s politics while for others its religion, etc. I’d wager that whatever your boundary is, you will step over it in the next five years.  It wasn’t long ago that most people thought it was completely inappropriate if not dangerous to post pictures of their children.  Now, we ‘check-in’ at the movie theatre, with a photo and detailed description of who we are with without any care of who is about to break into our house with full knowledge of an easy escape.  Slowly our blood pressure, medical history, employment status, and political affiliations have been declared and filed into the public record.

While this may seem like a rant, it isn’t.  I swear.  It is simply an observation or a status update; no, not that kind.

Another observation would be how this dramatic change in daily life has altered our relationship with our pastimes and passions.  Sometimes I feel a sense of guilt when I post a picture of a great campsite I stumbled upon or fluffy clouds that were following me on a bike ride.  I’m afraid that I am somehow cheapening the moment by superficially representing an experience that very dear to me in the same way that the Bachelor degrades the intimacy of real relationships.  It just feels wrong.

I’ve seen similar changes occur in something that I have depended on to get me through adolescence, young love, and just about anything else life could hurl; surfing.  The dependency that I and countless others share with nature and motion has significantly changed with the current generation.  Sure, it looks similar from the sand but we both know that there is more to this story.  There have always been competitively driven surfers and a need to attract sponsors to reach their goals.  The shift has been in how everyone is projecting a protected image of themselves as if they had a celebrity appearance to account for; like one wardrobe malfunction could end their career.  Of course, this perpetuates from both ends of the lens.  Raise your hand if you have an @name_photography account and a water housing.  It’s chaotic by yesterday’s standards!  There is certainly some beauty to the idea that people who had previously never considered themselves as artistic are discovering creativity in their lives but we should still take notice.

A massive wave has hit our shores.  Let’s just make sure that the core of surfing’s gifts stay afloat.

About The Author

Josh is a long-time resident ambassador of Surf and Adventure. He works with every aspect of S&A from building boards with Jake to leading bike tours to False Cape. Ask him about longboard fins to find out more than you ever wanted to know. [@jausch]

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