This is a friendly message to all the pros, the sponsored climbers, filmmakers, photographers, skiers, BASE jumpers, outdoor brands, and outdoor influencers. We’ve been following you, we the general public, for a very long time, watched you on Instagram, read you on Twitter and Facebook, watching your videos on Youtube; in fact, we’ve supported you, in one way or another, for most of your careers. We’ve bought what you sold; help built your brand; watched you do all the things we could never do; go to places we’d never go, live the lives of our dreams.
Most of us have boring, ordinary lives. We gave up on most of our dreams for jobs, families, Netflix. What life we have leftover, we waste watching you, because if we can’t afford to be what we want to be: being paid to surf big waves in Patagonia by Nat Geo, at least we can live it vicariously; at least someone somewhere is living it while we educate the kids, drive the buses, replace society’s lightbulbs.
BUT here’s the rub.
If you want to tell us – now – how we need to change our wicked ways: not to fly to the places you go: not consume all the stuff that you’ve told us to buy, shown us every day, new kit and toys we can’t afford anyway: to not drive 4x4s we don’t have into the cool places we’ll never visit; well – it’s like asking us to step off life’s red carpet, when that’s a carpet we’ve only seen on your Instagram.
If it were just one or two of you lecturing us, then that would be OK, but not all of you at once; because you do know we’re smart, don’t you? We read books and newspapers, watch documentaries, maybe even have these downsized, staycation lives for a purpose, for the greater good.
So, perhaps try to have more self-awareness, it’ll help avoid the hypocrisy, and also a little more shame; because it does not aid the ends we all serve, and can sometimes just come across as brand building and marketing, to those already trying to live low carbon lives. When everyone shouts fire at the same time, no one hears anything; people just switch off.
Again, I’m saying this as both your friend, and as a friend of this planet; but going forward, maybe try and be mindful of the fact, in terms of the life a person can ever aspire to live, and it’s associated cost to the planet, you are the 1%.
A Snickers bar costs 60p. Were these words worth as much?
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram