There you are – you have just summited Mount Katahdin, finishing your AT trek, or you have concluded your PCT on the Canadian border, or reached the Cathedral in Santiago – and you Instagram a picture of the end of your hike, or you post your achievement on Facebook, or like many of us you grab a pint of beer or a glass of wine and write your final blog! Who couldn’t love this, the daring of the undertaking and the successful completion of a lifelong goal? Yet the next morning, there in your email inbox or under your uploaded image are postings critiquing your trek – the time it took you to complete the trail, the type of clothes you wore, debates regarding your choice of tents, or just letting loose with a list of frustrations about you, your goals, the weather, the influence of trails on public morality, and the political environment. All of a sudden your trek has become the focus of debates and discussions that you never would have thought were related! If you are anything like me, you wonder – how can anyone possibly be this upset about me hiking or me completing this trail? How can me hiking a simple trail seem to represent – for some people – the end of social morality and the collapse of western civilization? Yet these days it increasingly seems that anything – no matter how low key, personal, or innocuous – riles the hatred of people who then feel compelled to rant and criticize you and your achievement. It didn’t take me long to regularly start getting the negative postings or hater emails … and I imagine I am not alone in this situation.
Advice and debate vs hater rants
A Few Thoughts
(2) It has shifted my message in trying to talk to youth. As well as getting them outdoors, I want to let others know that if you try anything different, people will attack and critique, but that you need to keep going.
(3) I now intend to talk about some of the issues and comments I have received as I go, and I also now tend towards defending others online who are clearly being trolled and harshly criticized.
(4) When I write blogs – for The Trek, or postings on Facebook, I am much more aware than I was previously about what I am saying and how I am saying it. I am more self conscious about how I present things – which is crummy to feel that you have to consciously shift how you express yourself, and to change your voice and your message in an attempt to limit the types of attacks you will receive.
(2) Most of it is just talk and online ranting, not a personal threat – it is irrational frustration and has little basis in reality.
(3) Don’t take it personally, if you are hiking and know your achievements, know your abilities, know what you can do – then there is nothing these types of people can say to take away from that. Let them rant into the wind, and keep on keeping on.
(4) Don’t become a hater yourself – whether against others or to boost your own online footprint. The more negativity out there the more it keeps spreading.
(5) Realize how much support you have out there with friends, family, colleagues, through online forums, with other hikers.
(6) If you want to respond, do so once, politely, rationally, and then let it go….
(7) Finally, as I was wisely told by Mel Vogel, another hiker currently on Canada’s Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) – Haters are going to hate, get on with YOUR thing and get on the trail – out there real is real.