Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

The Digital Dilemma

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I have a problem when I go outdoors. The problem sits in my left trouser pocket, is a rectangle shape, a tad under 200 g light, and is called a phone. The problem is: It connects me to the world outside of this place where I am hiking and camping. And I wonder, if it is what I really want.

At the Crossroads

Chances are, you read this article on your phone. Hiking in Finland is a digital publication, and the chances are high, too, that you follow me on some of the Social Media networks that are out there: Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.

“What’s the problem, Hendrik?” you might ponder. Well, when I go outdoors, it is in 9 out of 10 cases for work. I’m in a really fortunate situation that I was able to make being outdoors my work. Ski-touring, backpacking, climbing or bikepacking - it’s my work. No complaints there, it’s awesome. I love being outdoors, and it is good for my mental health and general wellbeing.

Here’s the Dilemma, which I referred to earlier: That phone in my pocket. And the possibility to let you, my dear readers, Fans and friends, be part of my trip right in the instant.

The problem is also the possibilities that the phone gives me. “I could share now how beautiful it is to sit at this fire!” Or I could watch some Youtube videos. Read the News. See what others are up to on Twitter.

But do I do this for you, or do I do this for me? Do I need this “instant gratification” which I could get from positive reactions on Social Media?

Instagram Outdoors?!

I don’t think I do it for me. Yes, I love to share my experiences from amazing places like the Mullerthal Trail in October, because I want to share with you how beautiful and wonderful this place is. But could it just wait? Would that allow me to experience and enjoy the place even more, if I wouldn’t need to feel like I “Have to share” this on Social Media right here and now?

I have done this, even on paid work trips, and it never has been an issue. It’s a wee bit more work (because I then need to remember to upload the stories and photos later on) but it’s possible. And it makes the trip a tad more enjoyable, because there’s one less thing to take care of.

But then, it’s not instant. I might make it look like I’m out all the time, which, you know by now, I am not. Not normally, definitely not this year. But it gives the impression, and while it might delight some people to see my latest photo of some amazing camp spot, it just as well might be making someone else more depressed that they don’t life this “amazing outdoor lifestyle”.

And would I miss the conversations, likes and comments? Yes. I like the chats I have with friends and Fans on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook about trips, books, equipment, and always am happy to help and try to answer them all. Because I care.

But I try to get rid of putting any meaning to these numbers: How many likes, comments and RTs something gets. I do this for me, and you. And while at the same time I really appreciate, want and also need them (and especially the algorithms on all the Social Media platforms want them), I try to make a number not seem important to me. It is not, after all.

Flightmode Engaged

When I am outdoors I try to really stay offline. It usually has a practical reason, too: Batteries in phones don’t last forever, and I only carry one power bank with me. And while I use the phone for navigating and photography, most of the time it is in Flightmode with all means of communication switched off. That makes the battery last the longest, and makes me less distracted. And when I navigate on steep, icy hills, being not distracted about some silly online stuff is good, because it means I won’t fall down 😆

All this is a long way of saying: In the future I plan not to post from the trail or mountains. When I feel lazy (as I don’t want to plan to do it later) or can not resist, I still might share some Instagram Stories from trips. When there’s an amazing Aurora Borealis, or an insane sunset, I might even post a photo right then & there. But for the most part, what you will see from me on Social Media Networks, will be memories from times gone past. That doesn’t mean I’m outside all the time, even if I wish that could be the case, but it allows me to enjoy my time in the outdoors more. And that, Dear Reader, is probably the small nugget of wisdom I hope you take along from this article: To switch the phone off when you head outdoors, because it is good to be disconnected.

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