Pressure to produce quality content for social media profiles is contributing to the unnecessary injuries and deaths of many adventure sports athletes, according to Marc Peruzzi, a former competitive rider writing for Outside.
The need to create ever bigger, higher, faster, and more impressive feats is creating a culture that is having an impact on the lives of athletes. Peruzzi suggests that many climbers who would previously use ropes to secure ascents are now ditching their protective gear, pushed by the need to produce imagery to appeal to ever-increasing audiences who are harder and harder to impress on Instagram and elsewhere.
Speaking from his experience of working in the outdoor industry, and citing climbing, mountain biking, road cycling, and skiing as his examples, Peruzzi notes: “Increasingly, what we do outside is less about enjoying the activity itself as an intrinsic good, and more about planning ways to go bigger, faster, and farther, often for our selfie-stick mounted cameras.”
His assertions are supported by the growing numbers of brain injuries reported by emergency rooms, despite the fact that cars are getting safer. Doctors report that action sports are a factor in this increase of life-changing accidents.
In addition to exploring the need to produce content for social media, the article offers a fascinating insight into the concept of progression, and how it combines with "negative event feedback" whereby your ability to navigate risk increases your perceived sense of invincibility, prompting you to take greater risks in the future. However, in the mountains, avalanches pay little heed to a person's level of skill.
This need to create increasingly dangerous content in the form of photographs and videos is perhaps most starkly felt when exposure-pornstars — i.e., those on rooftops — are involved in accidents. Perhaps it's slowly becoming apparent that social media is also having a dramatic, but more subtle effect in other parts of adventure sports' culture.
Lead image courtesy of Richard Baybutt.