Smokey Mountains

I hate Instagram

Matt Hodel hiking Gregory's Bald
Matt Hodel hiking Gregory's Bald

In April of 2018 I awoke on a Gregory’s Bald in the Smokey Mountains.  The altitude gave me a headache and the morning air made me sick.  I didn’t take time to make a cup of instant coffee before morning light.  As I walked in through the scatted trees, every dark shadow looked like a scavenging bear.  The sun waited for me to reach the clearing and then it burst colorful rays of light over the mountains to the east.  I witnessed purple mountain majesties and felt the cool wind wake up the world.  So I took a picture with my phone. Then I shared it on social media.

The day was full of hiking and drinking and eating.  My trail buddy Slim Jim hadn’t arose in time to witness the morning sky.  I showed him a few pictures off of my phone as we made our way along the trail.  We were going to hike over 40 miles in a few days just as we had been planning for months.

That afternoon my phone clamored with text message notifications as I walked through a pocket of cellular activity.  I took a chance to see if anyone else had seen my post of the sunrise.  It had quite a few likes and lots of comments.  I started to answer them as I sat on a log, hundreds of miles away from home.  Then it hit me, what the hell was I doing?  I deleted the photo and turned my phone off.  Putting my mind in the present I returned to the mountains and continued my conversation with Slim Jim about life and what not.

A few weeks later I decided to drop of social media all together.  Facebook, Instagram, even my Nike Running App accounts were deleted and I was set free.  It was amazing. The thoughts of “Take a picture” and “Did anyone like this?”  or worse, “Why didn’t anyone this?” had vanished.  I highly recommend it.

Recently I turned my accounts back on.  I understand the importance of using social media as a tool and the need for online presence.  The difference this time is that I will not be posting anything.  I will have a marketing director posting on my behalf.  It will be the best of both worlds.  I get online presence and I will not have to count likes. Instead, at the end of the week, I will get a report of my analytics.  Since social media is a tool, anyone can use it.  So why not let someone who is better trained at posting and hash tagging take control so I can spend more time hiking.

Matt Hodel


Leave a Comment