351: Digital Courage and the 4 Other Reasons I GoPro
One of my GoPro cameras fell into Smith Mountain Lake, while I was waiting my turn to wakesurf this past summer. My buddy asked me how much money had just sunk to the murky bottom. I gave a ballpark estimate, and then another friend declared, “I’ve never been one to record myself. Why do I need a video of myself!?”
He wasn’t looking for an answer. He was poking fun at a guy who has been buying GoPros since they were 35mm film cameras on wrist straps: me.
I’m a documenter, a paper trailer, an analytics addict. I’m also insecure and compelled to create content for others to affirm. I know: that’s not healthy; and I’m on a journey to change my motives.
In the meantime, here are the positive reasons I capture so much of what I do.
I don’t remember everything. I relive my memories regularly by pulling up my old content on my phone or social media. Scientists have found why humans—even those with good memories—do this. Our bodies release serotonin when we reflect on blessings and past success. Serotonin is one of our body’s built-in stress fighters. Serotonin deficiencies lead to depression, as well as physical and mental breakdowns. So, I use my GoPros to fight the stress of my job.
I rarely consume alcohol. When I do, it’s in small quantities. (It once took me a week to finish a single bottle of Mike’s hard lemonade.) So, I don’t consume “liquid courage.” I do, however, leverage digital courage—the confidence that comes from knowing others will see the footage. The blinking red light has steadied me before bungee jumping and hitting big white water. It’s steeled me for kayak drops and sky dives. I might look like a dork in the moment, but I’m feeling my oats if there’s a camera strapped to me or trained on me.
Apparently, people mistake my exuberance for exaggeration. To some, I’m not just a story teller but a story maker, an embellisher. So, I take extra effort to use measurable statistics in my captions and to invite people to join me on my adventures. Part of that is my passion for introducing people to new accomplishments. The other part is that I want witnesses who can corroborate my recollections. I don’t always have that luxury, especially on my international trips. So, it’s convenient to store evidence on the SD cards inside the cameras attached to me.
We live in exciting times, and enthusiasts keep creating or tweaking different exhilarating ways to oppress the adrenal glands. I like trying new and varied adventures rather than diving deep into any one of them. That strategy allows entry-level experiences to dump lots of epinephrine and dopamine into my system. (All human bodies get chemical rewards when we push into our comfort zones. I’m just addicted to those chemicals.) I’m usually not the first in my circle of friends to experience any one type of adrenaline rush, but I do regularly have to explain something to the late- or non-adopters. Differences like via ferrata vs. rock climbing or wakesurfing vs. wakeboarding or paragliding vs. parasailing. It’s easier sometimes to just show a couple Facebook videos or photos.
I willingly admit that my adventure brand was not passively built. I’m not surprised when I show up to a professional gathering and multiple people independently ask me, “So, what’s your next adventure?” I’m pretty good with Google, Instagram, and Pinterest. I can build some incredible itineraries. But I’m also the beneficiary of the invitations of others—people who know I’ll be game for what they’re planning. I keep myself on those invite lists with regular reminders of my interests that they see online. Those reminders come in the form of content from my GoPros.
Someday, I might not need courage or affirmation. Someday, I might be able to keep indelible memories only in my head. Some day, people might trust what I say. Until then, I’ll supplement my deficiencies with wearable cameras.