Will Gadd – Athlete, Speaker, Guide     Athlete     Speaker     Guide    
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Social Media: A Bold New Plan.

Date: 29th March 2016

I use social media and love consuming it, but I am deeply dissatisfied with how it looks, what it says, and especially how I create it.

I haven’t posted on Instagram in two weeks because it just feels, well, bad. It’s public self-stimulation, more and more photos of, “Look at me!” Or, “Me doing the hardest thing ever!” Or, “Me having a ton of fun in a really cool place while you’re at work!” Some of that is neat, but after a point it feels, well, like porn, not magic.

I recently named a route (the hardest in the world, naturally), “Instagrade” as a direct slam on the ridiculous nature of some climbing events on Instragram. But this isn’t much of a solution, and the problem is much bigger than just climbing feeds in social media. So much of what I see on Instagram is bullshit that I don’t even want to be associated with. I want to take my toys and go pout in the corner. But as a professional athlete, film maker, photographer, writer and all-around “content creator” social media is important – back in the day a business could basically commit suicide by failing to buy an ad in the Yellow Pages. Not being on social media today would be the same for me. Plus, I hate quitting just because I don’t like how something is going. That’s the passive solution, and it’s not good enough, ever.

Normally the solution when having a social media “crisis” is to commit Facebook and Instagram suicide, denounce social media as unworthy and then claim to be “healed!” I don’t buy that process anymore than I do the preachers on TV claiming the same thing. The ones denouncing ungodly behaviour are always the ones doing the most of it…

So if I don’t like the way I’ve been communicating in my own social media or social media in general then I need to do it differently. I could bitch about how others have been communicating, the inherently fake nature of much of what is there, the lies of omission, the fact that I don’t look good in a bikini and will therefore never have two million followers, OR: I can do my social media differently. I can make it what I want it to be, and throw some grenades at what I think needs blowing up. The punk ethic in the face of adversity is to create a solution in a form acceptable to you, to rebel not in silent absence  but in LOUD creation. You don’t like music? Play some. Be loud. Angry. Sarcastic. Fun. Drunk. Useful. Real. Now.

So, going forward, my social media will be the following:

  1. It will be in context. Images tell stories, but images need stories as much as stories need images. Without context nothing makes sense.
  2. It will be worthy of engagement, in both directions. Information, ideas, thought-provoking concepts, pretty pictures with a real story.
  3. It will be wider spectrum: The good, bad and the ugly. Not just the happy “like this please!” images. To quote Ice T, “Shit ain’t like that!”
  4. It will be emotional, and not just the positive, “So stoked!” I’m over that. I am stoked a lot of the time in life, but my goal in social media is to roll in life, all of it, the giant celebration that we’re all attending until we die.

That’s it. I’m working on it now…

Posted in: Blog


  1. Ian G   March 29, 2016 12:54 pm

    Bang on Will.

    Not that I have enough instafollowers for anyone to notice but I’ve also been taking a break to wrap my head around how to use IG without wanting to smash things.

  2. Amir   March 29, 2016 5:37 pm

    great Will, I like your honesty in your content.
    no 1 and 2 are also very good points. I like Colin Haley’s Facebook mainly because of these two points. engaging with description of location and situation to be.

  3. Kevin Sellers   March 29, 2016 8:16 pm

    Probably the best advice ever comes from John Kraukhauer. He basically says to take the I, me, or my out of the equation and what you are left with is pure and unadulterated feeling and emotion. Then you’re getting somewhere

  4. Rolfe Oostra   March 30, 2016 3:42 am

    this piece got rejected by various editors as being “too sensitive” thought you might like it.
    let me know what you think.

    The way of the world.
    The Earth’s mantle over the small Himalayan kingdom of Nepal rippled as if a giant had thrown a boulder into a still pond. Whilst the world was slow to realise the full magnitude of the earthquake it was quick to turn its horrified gaze to the events taking place at the base camp of the world’s highest mountain. Here the earthquake shook the massive mountain and the titans surrounding it with incredible force; within seconds millions of tonnes of snow, rock and ice was shaken from the steep slopes like water from a dog after an un-welcome bath and thundered down onto the valleys and glaciers below. It did not take long before the avalanches travelling at a hundred miles an hour had found their way into the base-camp and annihilated it. Its power was brutal, its enormity beyond comprehension. When at last the ice-dust settled and a few survivors crawled out of the debris it took many minutes to form a notion as to what had happened. Here and there an arm or a leg protruded from the rubble, some bodies lay completely buried within the massive amount of debris piled on top of the camp. Tents, oxygen bottles, tables and prayer flags lay mashed into un-recognisable form. The surviving climbers and Sherpa, by trait resourceful immediately began to dig for survivors. A job made especially gruelling as a majority of the missing people were friends, brothers, cousins, fathers or sons. The chaotic process eventually began to take on a more organised form, a medical tent sprung up and satellite calls were made to enquire about helicopters to begin the process of lifting the critically injured to the few medical facilities still standing in the valley below. Amongst the debris sat the lone figure of a man. Hunched over, his hands in his lap, a wild look in his eyes; a picture of grief and anguish. The Sherpa taking a brief moment from their frantic digging respectfully looked over and understood his suffering; something unbelievable had just happened, the Mother Goddess of the earth had been angered or perhaps the Earth itself feeling the pressure of humanity had let loose a warning of things to come. As the climbers and Sherpas went about their grim task occasional snippets of the man’s anguish could be heard … why me?… I can’t believe it!!… ohh my god!!… Then an icy gust would rise up and rip at the man’s words like confetti thrown into the wind. Occasionally he’d grunt and run his bloody and bruised hand through his matted hair. He seemed oblivious to his thorn clothes through which the wind began to stroke its icy fingers. Then suddenly he jumped up… Eyes bulging he raised his bloody fist to the mountains soaring above him; “FUCK IT!!!” He screeched into the biting wind “THE FUCKERS HAVE TURNED OFF THE FUCKING WI-FI”.

  5. Matts   March 30, 2016 6:15 am

    Spot on.

    And to share my frustration about this area:

    Whole issue is just part of larger issue in media (climbing, social and generally) that there’s severe lack of contrast. Everything is awesome. Everybody loves everything. Every route is best shit ever. And so on.

    I know it’s hard to get noticed if there isn’t enough hype works and exclamation points, but the truth is that most of the time less would be more. Like with love, people only _really_ love small subset of things. Hopefully people also hate very small subset of things, but most of the range is filled with things in the milder like/dislike sort of things.

  6. Ryan Stefani   April 1, 2016 1:14 pm

    Awesome. You are now among the classy-elite.


  7. ecdh   April 2, 2016 11:42 pm

    get yourself some McLuhan and chop at the context. each form of media can only carry a certain style of story – punk was the process of messing with that. fuck with the structure etc.
    IF, FB etc fails when the story is beyond what the format can carry – just as they were created for the failings of sites, blogs and emails.
    theres some cool shit out there messing with the format of how these things work, IG especially, being image-oriented.
    go meta, use the process of the media on itself. like punk. when the fidelity doesnt support the product, crash the media, find the glitches and stick it back together.
    you may need to repackage the sender tho. a monkey in a tuxedo is still a monkey.

  8. Patrick   April 4, 2016 12:28 pm

    Spot on Will. As a counterbalance to the awesomeness, all the stuff I post are shit compared to all the cool kids. But they are fun to me and my friends. So good enough for me.

  9. Richard   April 5, 2016 12:45 pm

    While I agree with some of what you are saying, I’m not so sure you always need a context, especially for Instagram. A picture is art and art doesn’t need context. People might interpret it as: “wow, he’s so good!” but others will just dream of going outside, protect the nature or simply just feel better from looking at something beautiful.

    A nice climbing picture makes me dream and want to get out of my couch. Good Art can make people better.

    Looking forward to you new approach. While I don’t think it’s needed, I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading the context. :)

    Happy climbing!

  10. peter   April 8, 2016 1:21 pm

    did you remove all your junk, that you left with your buddy red bull from the mountains?

    sorry my english

  11. Kevin   April 27, 2016 12:06 am

    Hi WIll,
    cool you’re seeing it’s porn…not like porn, it is porn. And for the same reason porn ruins real sex, so will happen for climbing porn. Think about it: what’s the end game for the current “more people filming and editting, than climbing?” …boredom.
    The real question is do video and still images convey what people like to think about climbing, better than something else?
    Start with this radical notion: Good climbing stories always transcend the actual climbing. So much climbing porn is limited, because it’s focused on the climbing. It’s like endless pictures of dick and breast, to try to convey sex.

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