Winter 2017: thoughts on life, skiing, and social media
Tis the end of the winter season here in Jackson Hole Wyoming, and what a winter it has been!!! While donald rump was sworn in as Emperor of the United States, we were busy getting face shots and shoveling our asses off!!!! Boy oh boy, has that stupid cliche "ignorance is bliss" ever been more relevant? Probably. Anyway, our little ski resort was actually declared to be in a state of emergency from this snowpocalypse back in February, a massive storm causing 17 power lines to be knocked over!!! What the fuck?!! There was this pile of snow in town.... lets just say I have never seen a pile of just snow that big. Even if our community had wanted to take the appropriate steps against the capitalist, corporate destruction of the planet, and strike, there was no way... we could barely handle all the snow and we are used to it!
We all know the saying, "communication is key" right? Well how about a little self communication? I know that the way I tend to think, speak, and generally explain to myself what the hell is going on, is by using words. You know, like english.(for me at least). So it would make sense that I should occasionally write things down. Feel free to ignore me and continue scrolling down to the pictures :)
With all this powder skiing, socializing, conversing, animal watching, star gazing, dancing, drinking, and loving, things can be a little overwhelming and busy sometimes. As much as those are all great outlets, a little reflection and attempted creativity seems like a good way to switch gears. Turn the brain on, instead of off.
The fact is, regardless of all the "good" things you surround yourself with in this life, they don't just automatically make everything all hunky dory(whatever the hell that means). Nor should they. Life is difficult and its going to keep being difficult. It is this endless cycle of good and bad emotions. Every good thing has a down side. Like, I'm riding so much powder and that feels soooooooo good. Everything slows down, and flows and floats in this beautiful existential existence, my mind and my body are one; I am making split second decisions, allowing me to launch off cliffs into bottomless pillow cloud heaven! Everything that did matter before, goes out the fucking window, and suddenly I realize there is no window at all, because I'm fucking outside!!
BUT I have no time to do my laundry or go grocery shopping, or finish my shovel blog. Why? Oh because of course after skiing, I go get a drink with my hilarious friends, which happily turns into four or five by the time I'm even home. Then a few more with my thankfully, super chill girlfriend. But usually, while I wasn't skiing, I was shoveling roofs for hours, or digging out the tram, and therefore I'm exhausted. I may not even be able to eat dinner before crashing on my couch or next to the fireplace. Or I go out and dance the night away. The key in winter for me is, to take one day a week and adult as hard as I fucking can, hang with the dog and girlfriend, and go watch wildlife, just so I can do it all over again next week. Because I love every minute of it. And embracing it is meaningful to my lifestyle. I certainly did find time to take a lot of photos this winter, photos are priority numero uno. Remembering to notice the beauty is very important to me, and using the camera to capture the beauty is just plain fun. I really didn't post too many photos this winter. What is getting to me is; how I should share them all with you fine folks.
This is starting to sound like some first world whiny bullshit. I am a Ski Bum simply for the fact that in fifty, or maybe even in thirty years, we may not have snow at ski resorts anymore. Rain in winter isn't funny, it is scary. It is already happening too much. Im not really here to talk about climate change though. (I should be :/) I more want to talk about how my status as a self proclaimed photographer makes me feel about social media. Something about social media pisses me off, and I would like to know exactly what. Sometimes I take breaks from it, but that isn't addressing the problem as much as ignoring it.
I am aware and annoyed that our relationship with the natural world has been bought from us at the price of a few likes. We are evolving as a species. I know that it has generally been assumed that we as humans are the pinnacle of evolution, of course. But our brains are being affected by technology. Skeptical? Look around you. People are glued to these phone devices. It is now instinct to pull your phone out and snap a shot or a chat every time you see something beautiful. It feels productive to check email or social media, and little games are a great distraction. People have been telling me for years to get a smart phone. How great they are; information is just a fingertip away!! and as a photographer!!!! "Oh my god you don't have instagram???" You should totally get a smart phone and get on instagram bro, its #awesome.
Well I finally fucking got on instagram by borrowing other people's smart phones, and it feels a lot like high school. The more followers you get, the better you feel about yourself apparently. It is now how people define their lifestyle. It suddenly isn't about skiing everyday, just because it makes your day that much better. It's suddenly about skiing everyday for your self image. This may not be apparent on the surface You can tell yourself it's not, but then you seem to check every new notification.... We grew up watching celebrities, now we can be the self proclaimed celebrities, right?
I started my photography habit because I was constantly out in the mountains. I was constantly out in the mountains because I ate mushrooms on the edge of the grand canyon one time in college with my best friends. I watched the humongous puzzle of the Grand Canyon shift, move, and breathe, and I couldn't believe my eyes! I wasn't just watching the Grand Canyon, I was an intricate part of it all. I realized if we actually take the time to notice, there is a beautiful poetic light and energy everywhere in nature.
I started to spend a lot of time outdoors and these beautiful things I was seeing, started to become these divine moments to me, temporary, yet unlike anything I had ever experienced spiritually. Most of this time I was, honestly, always posting my photos on Facebook. I do appreciate that most everyone on my Facebook is someone I actually know. It adds some authenticity because I wanted to show my friends and family the beauty I was seeing and experiencing. I wanted to show people that the natural world was a good thing that needed to be protected and cared about. Although I still feel this way, the last few years my relationship with social media has been messing with me. I capture these moments to worship the energy of the natural world, but without even really being aware, my prayers are being hijacked by the technology Gods. My post later was becoming more important to me than where I was currently. I couldn't stop taking photos because what if this is the moment that will be better for my post, no this moment!!! Hence my necessary breaks from posting.
People tell me they are jealous of all my travels. People also tell me they are inspired. I guess I would rather they be inspired than jealous, but I think those two go hand in hand sometimes. I am inspired by all my friends on Facebook. People wandering around the world, country, home. Our generation feels like it got the shaft, so we have taken things into our own hands. At the same time, I have mad respect for people who are responsible enough to buy a house, have kids, live in a city without going insane. Basically anyone who is trying to figure out this crazy, outrageous, beautiful world that we were born into.
Every novel I read is about a time when nobody had phones, or the internet, or social media. That means that the time we live in now, people are on a whole different level of consciousness than most of human existence. It is getting harder to relate to people who never had a screen to look at every 30 seconds. Forced to do something we seem to enjoy at the time, but regret later. What a great use of time! But the truth is that we CAN relate to each other. We are all in this together. We just need more genuine dialogue. My attempt is a blog, womp womp.
I don't need the temptation of a smart phone. It's like this force field attached to us, in which we are now obliged to see our planet through. Nature behind a veil of technological induced insecurities. It's not A beautiful sunset, it is MY beautiful sunset. Mine, mine, mine. I have done whatever I can to avoid acting like this or feeling this way but I can't say I am not guilty. We are a part of this planet. We do not own it. *cough*capitalism*cough*
I did not create the system, I will not pretend like I will fix it. I will do what I can to help myself and others not fall victim to it though. Thus my new obsession with watching animals in the wild has helped me realize this and slow me down even more. They are living in such a harsh environment, yet how peaceful they are. Their instincts provide them with what they need to survive. They just are. It actually reminds me how much more connected to the natural environment they are than us. It is inspiring. So, after studying people for about ten years, and that being fairly disappointing, I want to shift my focus to animals. Mainly because it is inspiring to not think in terms of popularity, money, or objects. These animals don't give a fuck about us, or our social media.
After much contemplation from this random blog post I may have some conclusions. We need to be aware that what we pay attention to, our relationship with nature, and each other; has been hijacked by robots. There was a promise of endless information, increased social connections, ability to spread awareness of natures beauty. But there is too much information. You can look up whatever point of view you want in seconds and it doesn't have to be true. Education has become obsolete. Do you really think that this hasn't affected our political situation? Not only are we confused by what is true or not, we are so distracted by these little devices that we are happy to just keep scrolling instead of seeking out the actual truth. People hardly read the articles they share. Science has become just another opinion.
Our relationships with each other have changed, I can sit in a room where every single person is on their phone and if I don't get my phone out it seems weird. There is nothing more awkward than that couple on a date staring at their phones the whole time. Mark Manson just said it best by calling it "phone pollution". Even if I don't have my phone out, I am affected by you having your phone out. What about dialogue, conversations, eye contact! (only while drinking of course!)
Most of all I am conflicted about trying to make money off of photography. I do make some, but only from what I shoot and sell myself. There is just a high price to pay if I was to pursue this to the extent of people actually paying me for essentially, fucking advertisements. Thousands of followers and I would become a super brand for some green company and the earth would be saved through my pocket robot!! The future is unknown.... The movies and old stories always said in the future, robots would take over (and of course personified the robots to look like humans) But who would have imagined that the robots would be in the shape of little boxes that we carry around in our pocket, advising our every thought process?
So let us decide what we will pay attention to. Get outside and don't even bring the damn phone or camera sometimes. Take photos just for fun. Appreciate beautiful things. There is no avoiding social mediating. BUT god dammit!! I will not spend hours scrolling just to feel like shit after!!! I just wish it all wasn't quite so addicting. But apparently we make our own fucking decisions!!! Lets not forget it!! And as Joseph Cambell says "Joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world." You all inspire me on a daily basis, and I hope to do the same. Well all get through this together. Please comment, it's meant to be a dialogue. Love all y'all.
Technology, Nature, Gods. It is all a part of the same universe. gotta keep it interesting though. stick to my day job?