A Duty to Be Responsible?

I recently read a post by Megan Hine, discussing the fashion of becoming an ‘adventure blogger’. She essentially made the point that there is a lot of ‘false epicness’ on social media, seen first hand by heading for what she thought was a remote waterfall in Iceland, only to realise it was at the side of a main road. If you take a photo from the right angle, you couldn’t see the car park. It’s actually a super interesting read and something I’ve seen a few times recently – Link here. We are all guilty of cropping things from photos because we want a prettier image. Even the first photo in this post on Schwarzsee was taken 250m from the chairlift. However, it’s our responsibility to disclose this and not be a part of the false epicness! 

She also used Snowdon as an example. The perceived difficulty level is low because of the well trodden paths/numbers who summit, but if the weather turns and you’re not prepared?

​Well, you only need to look at the Mountain Rescue statistics for that one!

Reading this got me thinking about our responsibility as outdoor bloggers to be honest with those who follow us.

The majority of the posts I read, and indeed the bloggers I follow, are pretty honest…

Lots of ‘jesus that killed me’ or ‘it was a lot steeper than anticipated and I thought my lungs may explode’ – Equally, I’m seeing a lot of people who are not being honest and are making out that many things are easily accessible when, in some cases, they really aren’t. There are so many people I see who do things that even we all think are crazy but are brushed off as being easy for the bravado factor or the Instagram likes.

I’m all for trying new things, but these new things should be attempted in a way that’s sensible and, most importantly, within your abilities.

 

Social media is mostly to blame for this, I think. I see people coming up with wonderful, wintry mountain challenges to raise money. Admirable? Yes. However, I know that a few of these people don’t how to navigate in the mountains, don’t know how to walk in crampons or use an axe to self arrest, don’t know how to get down safely in a whiteout. I’m 99% sure that this perceived ‘easy day in the hills’  is because of social media.

“Well I saw XYZ Blogger doing X peaks in the Cairngorms last winter within a few days!”

Yes, but XYZ Blogger also went on a number of courses beforehand, has extensive winter UK and alpine experience and can navigate even in bad weather. Of course, it’s partly the responsibility of XYZ Blogger to mention in the post that they have this experience and if you don’t, it may be worth hiring a guide. There’s no shame in that.

As you all know, I’m a huge believer that everyone should GetOutside and enjoy our beautiful countryside, but do so responsibly, bloggers too! I know that I and most of my fellow GetOutside Champions include mapping information for our walks, and always take a map with us, but there are many outdoor or adventure bloggers who will write up their walks, and not mention a map, or what kit they took out with them.
​This may not seem a glaring issue to you. You know where you’re going, you know Snowdonia like the back of your hand, perhaps? But those people who see the cool photos on instagram and want to recreate it? Well, they may not have the same knowledge, they may not know what to take, and here we begin to see problems…

​People trying to summit Snowdon in flip flops, people getting hypothermia because they didn’t dress appropriately and the weather came in, people attempting a ridge and not realising how exposed it is, people who get lost because they thought it would be an easy route to follow and ‘the person on Twitter didn’t take a map’ (this is one I’ve heard first hand).

It’s something I saw in Chamonix and Zermatt too. People trying to walk on to the glaciers without crampons or an axe, people heading to altitude and feeling sick because they didn’t acclimatise, people trying to get that money shot of the Matterhorn & paying something like 50 Euros to get the cable car up and back because they weren’t confident or fit enough to walk it, then assuming (wrongly) that they could just bimble on over to Schwarzsee in their birkenstocks, trainers and leather shoes…

The day I was up at Schwarzsee, it was covered in snow, people were attempting to walk down to the lake​ and falling all over the place. There was a reason most of us were not…  we were in mountaineering boots, had poles and were prepared.

I mentioned to a lady that it probably wasn’t a great idea to walk down in the aforementioned birkenstocks, she ignored my advice anyway and spent a good five minutes moving a centimetre at a time, before eventually stacking it in the snow and needing a hand up, thankfully uninjured as it was just a light slope. The amount of people who didn’t look at the weather before heading up there was just incredible. Just because you can get the cable car up and down, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress appropriately for the conditions.

I digress… this isn’t a rant at the unprepared, I’m very glad that people want to explore, I love that people are wanting to GetOutside and I love that people are seeing the benefits of being outdoors for their health and wellbeing.

However, when we’re posting out epic adventure blog posts, we should also be responsible and
 make people aware of the kit they should be taking out, making sure they know how to read a map and use a compass to reach the places they want to safely, or to recommend courses they could take if they want to learn to navigate, even showing them the basics ourselves if we can. ​

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own actions, but the point I’m trying to make is whether it’s our duty as outdoor bloggers to educate people? Or at the very least let them know the background – fitness, experience etc… If we, as regular outdoorsy folk find something horrendous, then it’s probably fair to say that those heading out on their first forays in to the wild are going to struggle.​So why not make them aware of that before they go?

By all means post the steely photos, but be responsible about it and consider the impact it may have.

0 thoughts on “A Duty to Be Responsible?”

  1. Yes Kate, absolutely!

    There is a balance to be had when we present our words and photos on our blogs and social media feeds. We present what we are doing as good and fun (and adventurous) because we want to inspire others to find their own passion for the outdoors – you know, pass on the love! But we must also demonstrate the reality of the event/activity/day/adventure – show that we have prepared properly (and how), say if it is was hard, explain what we would do differently next time, and be honest about skill and enjoyment level (was it type one or type two fun!).

    I hope I manage to get this balance when I share.

    Take care outside x

  2. Nice post. It’s really nice to read that kind of content.
    Social media can manipulate everything really easy. When it comes to outdoors, that can be deadly wrong.
    I even read some posts, writing about how easy it’s to climb everest, if you would pay 10.000 usd. Lots of friends get sick because of altitude in different places just because they didn’t even know altitude can cause serious problem.
    We as bloggers should be responsible to readers as you mentioned.

  3. A much-needed post.

    This is a slippery area – is it entertainment, or is it education? For as long as people might be looking to this kind of material as any kind of guidance about their own outings, its fitness for purpose as education needs to take priority – IMO.

    There is a huge variation in how demanding and potentially dangerous the British hills can be, let alone those further afield. People who want to head out somewhere new can’t be blamed for not being 100% sure whether their level of preparation is good enough or not, but the sensible thing is to DYOR, then over-do it a bit, to be on the safe side. People who publish on social media shouldn’t make it any harder than it already is for newbs to stay on the safe side and still have fun. We need those people to stay safe and have fun – for all sorts of reasons, selfish and altruistic.

    I think the key is for those who publish to make it clear what level of fitness, experience and formal learning they have – no BS, no false modesty, and be straight about how hard/easy they find things. Then readers can assess where they stand in relation to what they’re reading. That may take a bit of the zing out of a few posts, but it might also mean fewer MRT outings.

    Tall tales used to belong in the pub, with the proverbial few beers. What’s the online equivalent of that? A more carefully-selected audience?

    PS Good luck with Mont Blanc.

  4. That’s a good and interesting post and also the replies to date. Certainly made me think about how I put my outings across on social media and gave me food for thought about future posts I put out there. I do agree we should be honest and specific about our activities and the preparation and experiences we undertake without misleading others in to a false sense of security and safety. Thanks Kate 👌😊

  5. Great article I think it’s up to those to write about the outdoors to educate their readers often but it’s also up to the common sense of the reader and that, well, you can’t control. Recently the media made a big splash about a boy climbing Everest ( I think) in high heels for charity and he was commended for being brave etc. This really anoyed me because there was nothing brave about putting his life, or those that may have to come and resuce him, at risk. I feel sometimes that adrenaline junkies go a little far in pushing the what’s possible. It goes back to that idea of just because you can doesn’t mean you should….

    I do think the people who use social media have a lot to answer to when they manipulate the truth, and influence in dangerous ways.

  6. Very interesting post. Had me slightly worried for a second as to what people perceive from my content. Then I realised that my stuff isn’t that impressive. But on a serious note, I think it’s a very interesting discussion point. Yes there is an onus on adventurers to be open about their conquest, but also retain some of that magic. I do think there is still a common sense factor that applies. To what extent can the blogger be criticised when individuals fail to prepare? I’ve never attempted anything serious outside without research and safety precautions first. There will always be those kind of people that just don’t think. But over all, I do think you make a very good point that bloggers and adventures can do more. It doesn’t undermine your achievement in anyway. I have tried to be as honest as possible In my Vlogs and it has sometimes resulted with criticism or a lower view of my acomplishments. But then I remind myself that I haven’t missled anyone and I’m happy with my triumphs.

  7. It’s an interesting point, and I must admit to being in two minds over it.

    I get where you are coming from and can see how it can be easy to make things look simple that aren’t, and how that could fool people into thinking they can do something that they maybe can’t. But I also think why should any of us have to temper what we write or share just because there are idiots out there who think walking up a mountain in underwear is a good idea. A surgeon will make a bypass look easy but is anyone stupid enough to think they could do it?

    Where do we draw the line.

    I have to say the Darwin awards spring to mind each time I read about someone who thought they could climb a mountain in their pants or paddle board the channel without being able to swim.

  8. Just passing thru on Twitter, the post title caught my eye so I hopped on over for a quick read..*smiles*

    First, great article, and I enjoy the way you write..*smiles*…

    Anyways, I’m in no way (like snail vs superman) not an outdoors, adventurer (health issues)..

    BUT, What I found HILARIOUS (proverbially), is that all of you Gals/Guys are out there doing your adventure thing, and so this article makes tons of sense/quite logical…but, perhaps my impression is wrong?…But, seems there isn’t a standard sort of grading going on..remember, I said not outdoorsy..Well, the most actively dangerous activity that I engage in is Crocheting and Knitting..*laughs* and yet, on Pinterest (I don’t really Instagram), when ever I post information, I post the “Level (1-5/Beginner-Expert), and that’s for Crochet/Knitting!! you don’t even have to move to do it!..*rolls eyes* ..
    Yes, I get that even my system of grading leaves a lot to be desired, because what one person considers easy, may not be “easy” to the next person, and so on and such; however, regardless of the plus/minus accuracy of the grading, at least it gives some foundation of immediate understanding by a reasonable imdividual..and Yes!, I understand that obviously, what you great Gals/Guys do out there in the Big Wide, is far more complicated, diverse, and potentially dangerous…

    However, still seems to me as if y’all or at least those of y’all in what appears to be like minded member skill level groups (from the sound of it, the GetOutside group) could, (and should), quite easily get together and say..Hey, as a standard, let’s all of us do this grading to help keep the curious and woefully unprepared from, well, doing something tremendously stupid, and possibly life threatening..*shrugs* *smiles*..As Traiblazers, Yes, (not in a rude way), I do believe that there is some level of responsibility..(heck, not like Crocheting or Knitting at the wrong level is going to do anything other than waste time), and I am not a trailblazer equivalent in that craft, just one more average person, still, I believe that I have a responsibility to others that come, or moreso the newbies to the hobby, to be a guide or at least, share information that I hope others will likewise share with me to potentially save myself from those same errors in selecting projects beyond my skill level..*shrugs* *smiles*…Just a quick sidenote:There’s a book titled, “Into the Wild”, I’m sure you’ve heard about it, anyways, there was a documentary made (which I of course have seen), where the local parks services discussed the hundreds and thousands of people inspired by that book, who then try to tramp out into the Alaskan wilderness..*rolls eyes*… in an effort to go and see, and locate the bus in which the main character stayed, and ultimately died..and the local Rangers, etc.. discussed how ill/unprepared most are who go out there, and that if they are lucky, all that happens is they turn back, or get temporarily lost, but if not so lucky, and quite often, people come away with serious injuries and many actually drown, etc..(one is too many, over 2 is a tragedy), and the Rangers discussed that they seem lose lives every season..(which is also auite difficult for them to deal with too as the ones who have to go out and find people, only to end up recovering corpses)..*shakes head*…My point being, sadly the author of the book did not include a warning that may have saves countless lives since its publication…versus the wholly unnecessary numbers of lives which have been cut short for no other reasons, than a lack of understanding of the difficulty level of such a wilderness trip, and the good sense to know the difference between someone else’s abilities and level of appropriate preparedness, and their own…(and that going out into the Alaskan wilderness is not like a sunday stroll in the park)

    When I 1st started posting on Pinterest, no one graded their project levels..I started doing it for my reasons listed above..and surprisingly enough, while not everyone does, I have noticed that far more do now, and it seems to have caught on..(*laughs* yeah, I just took credit for all of the crafty crochet/knit grading on Pinterest..*laughs* don’t mind my huge noggin’ I can still fit through doors..*laughs* just kidding)…

    Well, that’s all I wanted to share/say..the above isn’t at all a knock against anyone..*smiles*..y’all are unbelievably BRAVE & AMAZING individuals, even at my healthiest/most active, I couldn’t do what y’all do likely just for fun..*winks*..*smiles*..

    Be & Stay, Safe out there in your Adventures!. & Have Fun!.*smiles*…eI’ll be cheering y’all on from the sidelines at home..(btw, it’s 5am & I’be yet to sleep, so pardon my rambling etc..*smiles*..now..off to catch some Z’s)

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