It’s been a while since I posted a blog. The loss of my Father has put many of life’s (so called) priorities into stark perspective. Caring for my Mother takes up much of my time, but with family support I still get out into the hills. I reflect more, stare more, say less and await the grieving to come. I’m a rather stoic old Englishman, with far too much stiff upper lip and not enough heart to easily let go – for now anyway. Real life has put the virtual world in its place, but it sometimes still intrudes…
A few weeks ago I was asked to photograph some walkers and cyclists near Mam Tor in The Peak District. When I enquired about the best place to meet, the reply came ‘Do you know the gate where everyone takes pictures for Instagram..?’ Such is the power of the Internet. No more do we need descriptions based on distance, bearing or time. Just look for the worn piece of ground. Society has made a choice. A choice to been seen, not only physically, but also digitally and to shout about it. This seasons images of climbers queueing close to the summit of Everest shocked the world, but should we be surprised..? Should a world possessed in ‘look at me’ act any differently..? I wonder if Balmat and Paccard would understand the modern need for permits to climb Mt Blanc..? It’s all about noise and its creation. Don’t get me wrong, I use Social Networking, but I don’t live on it. I don’t quest for the perfect shot, like everyone else’s perfect shot (of exactly the same place). I also find it disappointing that many people think posting pictures of their breakfast, endless quotes or where they’re flying off to next (commonly known as please come and burgle my house) is engaging. For centuries we have evolved to be story tellers, filled with emotion, expression and life, not creators of throw away statements, pictures or noise.
‘Let he who shouts the loudest be heard first’ is a phrase I abhor. I prefer Shakespeare’s ‘The empty vessel makes the loudest sound’. Noise doesn’t have to mean physical volume. It can also mean disruption, disturbance and unpleasantness. You only have to look at the present politics of chest beating and screaming to see this phrase in pathetic action. I’m surprised all politicians statements aren’t typed in CAPITAL LETTERS WITH FAR TOO MUCH PUNCTUATION!!! I much prefer Peter Mosely’s approach of ‘Shouting Quietly’ (although I’m a huge fan of Disaster Area)
Iceland has taken action due to huge numbers of people damaging flora and fauna in their desperate desire for the perfect Instagram shot. Many of their mosses are extremely delicate and people need to understand that they can’t trample anywhere with abandon and do no damage. The benefits of ‘Leave No Trace’ have been replaced by ‘post pictures at any cost and make lots of noise’. I’m with Iceland.
This year has been a dark one for mountaineering, with the tragic loss of a number of climbers including Tom Ballard and Martin Moran. I received many calls about both incidents and took part in a number of press interviews. I felt no need to blog or write about these as the media was already beyond saturation point, but accepted that working in the field I do, the press will call. I was personally invited to speak at a service for Martin in the beautiful village of Torridon and drove almost a thousand mile round trip to talk for only a few minutes. I found no need to shout about it, as peace and quiet felt more appropriate.
My choices have been changed dramatically as of late. The spontaneity of travel has been stemmed, but I still get away. I appreciate what I have, my family and my memories. These are private moments for me, rather than for everyone else. I speak with much love about the relationship my father and I shared, but I don’t want to shout about them. My father was a quiet man. I can’t ever remember him raising his voice, as his whispers could move mountains.
Life is full of choices and rather than putting them off, you should take them.
If you did, what choices will you make..?
If you make them, don’t feel the need to tell everyone. There’s no need to create even more noise.
Whisper into you own ear and just tell yourself…
I suppose it’s your perception of social media and what is your intended use. I personally have never written a diary or posted a blog, but that’s how I see my Facebook account …of course I haven’t been maintaining it all my life but I do see it as my digital legacy. Something, that will give future family members, who may not even be born yet the opportunity to get an insight in who I was.
My children are the first generation to have their lives recorded in a online diary. It’s a diary that I share with a very limited number of my friends. Specifically grandparents and aunts and uncles who we don’t see so often. When I’m long gone, not only will it be a great record of my children’s early years but also a great record of me and my wife as parents and the things that we enjoyed as individuals. So yes, there will be many pictures of that gate on mam tour ….but those pictures will have been taken by me at many different times in my life and with different people in the foreground ‘spoiling ‘ the view. I suppose my point is that people are different and their motivation may not be the same as the motivation of others. Never assume your own reality is the same for everyone else, and vice versa. Our differences are what make us interesting …another good piece of writing Nigel.
Thank you for your comment Karl. The electronic use of social networking as a diary is wonderful and for many the future, (although there are concerns about archiving and copyright). Unfortunately things tend to fall off the web in time, links get broken and articles lost. I wonder how many people remember Friends Reunited? As you say, it’s all how we use it and from my point of view, how much noise people want to make.
Nigel. A very thoughtful piece that really did make me pause for a moment on the train on the way home. Worthy of more than a ‘like’. Thank you.
Thank you Tony. Life has its moments, its ups and downs, but also far too many distractions. Pausing, even if only for a moment is good for the soul…