Text and Photo: Stein P. Asheim
Instagram, Instagram on the display,
Who is the toughest, if you can you say?
There’s not much room at the top of the tree,
That’s good, because no one’s as cool as me.
I was always the first to plant my stake,
Though others tried, they trailed in my wake.
I always did what had never been done,
You can see from my profile that I am the one.
Instagram followers, how many have you?
I’ve got fifty-five thousand, two hundred and two!
Fjelloghei is my hashtag ID,
Use it to see loads of photos of me.
Behind me you might see a mountain peak,
But mostly they’re pics of my amazing physique.
Wilderness is a place that can’t be surpassed,
And what do you think of my muscular ass?
In the mountains I get to feel wild and untamed,
Can’t you just look at my photos again?
Stein P. Aasheim.
A living Legend.
The Adventurer, photographer, and writer summited Everest back in the 80s (When the queue was not an issue), did the first ascent of the Norwegian Buttress on GreatTrango Tower, he has biked through the Sahara desert, crossed the South Pole, sailed through Antartica, skied through Svalbard, Greenland and Siberia, not to mention horseback riding through Mongolia, yeah, and the list goes on.
So what’s Stein P’s view on contemporary adventures and expeditions?
Is it really true that once upon a time it didn’t matter whether or not other people knew we’d been on a trip? Did people really not pretend that their skiing pics had been taken in more extreme locations than they actually were? And is it possible that no one cared if their images weren’t shared, liked or saved except in their own memory?
Was it really the case that we used to be happy just going on a trip for its own sake? Were things ever that simple? That the mountain and the experience were enough in themselves? That the trip was not wasted just because no one else knew about it? Is it true, that long ago you were happy to get only a single ‘like’, and for that to be from yourself? What made us tick before Facebook and Instagram?
#lookatme#lookatmeagain#lookatmeagainandagain Follow me, like and share! See how happy I am in the great outdoors. Now I have 26,356 followers. Well, good for you. You’re amazing. Fit. Man, are you fit! Where did you buy those leggings? And that jacket? And the boots, the gloves, the bag, the watch, the sunglasses and the hat? #Idignature #Wonderful They call themselves influencers. In Norwegian, the word is påvirkere. But what are they influencing us to do?
When did the mountains change from being an arena where you could learn about yourself, experience nature and enjoy physical activity to being a backdrop for pure narcissism—from the joy of nature to brand-building? It must have been sometime after 1976. That’s the year I skied from one end of Norway to the other. We thought we were the first. We hadn’t heard about any others. But then it turned out that some other guy had quietly done the same thing the year before. We’d also done it quietly.
When we bumped into a reporter from the Dagbladet newspaper in Jotunheimen, we begged him not to write about us. Not because what we were doing was a secret, or because we were particularly modest. We just had no desire to be in the papers. There was no status associated with appearing in an article. Quite the reverse; we were worried that people would think we were boasting. Now, boasting is a thing of the past, and self-promotion has become the norm.
The craving for fame and recognition, and the riches they bring, is nothing new in outdoor pursuits. Even the first polar explorers—if we can call that an outdoor pursuit—were honest about it. At the end of the 16th century, the Englishman Martin Frobisher tried repeatedly to find the North West Passage. The reason: “It is the only thing in the world that is left yet undone, whereby a notable mind might be made famous and fortunate.”
Fame and fortune—the formula for success—was no different in the 16th century than it is in the 21st. In between, we had the American Robert E Peary, credited as the first man to reach the North Pole in 1909: “I shall not be satisfied … until my name is known from one end of the world to the other.” Fame was his goal. The journey of discovery was his means. Both Frobisher and Peary would have had Instagram accounts with tens of thousands of followers.
And who am I, daring to make fun of likes and shares and honor and glory? I, who just broke north of 5,000 Facebook friends, who has written hundreds of articles about the great outdoors, 10-15 books, and given thousands of talks? Isn’t all this to inspire and give people pleasure? Or is my main focus actually my own image? How many times can you bump into yourself before you knock yourself out?
And is it really that harmful? Can’t you pursue your outdoor interests the way you want to? Shouldn’t you be allowed to bring pleasure to others with your stunning photos of nature’s beauty? Does it matter if your butt or chest are in front of the mountain? I can hear the torrent of questions. Isn’t the most important thing that we’re out there, enjoying ourselves? And my answer to that is: Yes, the most important thing is for us to get out there.