In this age of constant connection to the internet, skiers haven’t even removed their ski boots before they have already sent their photos of the day to the social networks. On the path to the shower, they consult their telephones constantly to see if they have received a comment. Under the shower they question whether they have posted the good photo and almost forget the pleasure of hot water on their aching bodies. That is why, from now on, the pleasure of being in the mountains is no longer experienced without thinking what the others – all those famous friends around the world – are going to think. Tom Leitner returns to this new aspect of the skier of the third millennium, this kind of social libido where the enjoyment of the moment is experienced increasingly through the mirror of others.
Have we definilty slipped into an age of egocentrism ? We display our life in social media and our ambition to document and share all aspects of our lives has found its preliminary culmination in our obsession with selfies. The term „selfie“ already implies it: in a self-centered manner, we constantly revolve around ourselves in a state of misperception of our own selves, which could almost be called megalomania.
In my opinion, though, egocentrism doesn`t deserve the bad press, I even believe that it`s supposed to be a desirable state. While the true egocentric – consciously or not – is steadily progressing towards self-awareness, literally discovering the center of his own ego, the kind of social media egocentric does the exact opposite: instead of defining himself through his own human nature, he does so through the reactions of strangers. All he strives for is affection in its most abstruse manifestation, namely those „likes“ by his social media friends and followers, which is no more than the parody of friendship. It quickly becomes an obsession, an addiction, and it is easy to lose oneself in the process. Instead of absorbing impressions and thus converting them into feelings and deeply private memories, he immediately reflects them, makes them bounce off into the virtual space of the internet. He forgets to be in the moment, as cliché as this may sound.
As members of the free sports community we always claim „living in the moment“ as one of our main motivations. We live our life for moments of intensity and honesty, wherein we feel as part of our nature and environment. We`ve always wanted to be hedonists in its most positive and original sense and stand in the line of a quite long tradition: to seek “pleasure in the form of a state of tranquility and freedom from fear and absence of bodily pain through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires“, is how Epicur defined the hedonist lifestyle, thousands of years ago. Well, I know, this view may sound romantic and maybe a bit too deep, but what else than romanticism would have us take all this effort just to do these useless things?
Traditionally, as freeskiers, we care a lot about other people`s reactions. Since the beginnings of free sports as we know it, people have always documented their antics. It is kind of what defines our lifestyle, our way of competing and a way to express ourselves by showing it to the world. It is an essential part of the concept and the focus on aesthetics and coolness is what sets us apart from traditional sports. More than sportsmen are we a self-staged production of a sportsman. We produce, and in some cases, market our lifestyle and to a certain extent we also want our private life to follow that idea of a self-imposed image.
Looking at it from a more pessimistic standpoint, freeskiing is a prime example for that “pics or it didn`t happen” mentality, the one that threatens to alienate us from ourselves: How many times do we ruin the moment by taking out the cam, switching on the go pro or going for that instabanger? The more “pro” you are, the more evident this reality becomes: your average break on a park shooting will have you see more people on their iphones than actually talking to each other. And when you`re on top of that mountain you will see the beauty more through the filter of social media success than as the miracle that nature actually is. This is a shame, as extreme situations and threats to health or life hold the potential to awake us from daily apathy and make us aware to the reality of life.
I mean, I don`t want to blame anyone for doing so. Maybe it is because I am another generation and I just can`t handle this? Maybe I am not flexible enough and the younger generation has a more relaxed approach to all that, which doesn`t distract them from reality all that much. In the end, it might just not be that much of a deal. But to me, being connected all the time means not being there, period.