A few of my favorite bits (cherry picked, not to be taken as a complete picture), with names abbreviated to protect anonymity:
Finding the whole miniature controversy to be hilarious, I put together this video, which has had more success than most of our projects:
JS:Don't forget a string of unintelligible hashtags
Darin McQuoid:Or two strings if all the good ones won't fit in one.
RKS:Small price to pay to do what you love... And you gotta start somewhere. As much as part of me misses the days where it took 1-2 years (or more) for a new DVD to come out, or months for photos to be released in a magazine, now a days the playing field is a little more accessible for everyone with social media and GoPros. And the result is instantaneous. Whether you are a so called "Pro" or not, you can prove value to a sponsor by showing that you're capable of creating content. The problem is you end up getting a lot of saturation, and sometimes the lack of quality content out there is excessive. Nonetheless, as much as a lot of my posts could be deemed "shameless" posts that "tag sponsors" at the end of the day, I get to kayak everyday. If that inconveniences people when they scroll their news feed, it's quite easy to hit the "unfollow" button! That's all for now, i'm going to Church with my GoPro. #GoPro to get some shameless hyphy swerve leans off Jah Spirit. BLESS.
ETG:I love kayakers, but not when they act out and look down upon other paddlers for being lesser. What is awesome to see about the new "non-paid" wannabe pro generation, is that they do it for the love of the sport...you're gonna see these kids paddling for the rest of their lives. Not like the over paid under skilled "pro-rodeoer" that maybe went creeking a few times a year, that stopped kayaking because they had kids and it's not that fun anymore. My family has taught me that I'd take unconditional love for my passion any day over a pay check. I meet and paddle with new young kids all over the world and they inspire me to keep pushing and paddling as many days as I can, I can see a younger version of me in all of them. As for social media, it's here, it's real, it's easy, and it's fun. Most posters get their likes and attention from family members and people that care about them. They aren't looking to be professionals and impress the always too cool for school kayak community that thinks their more core or original than the next. This is kayaking, it's awesome, stop judging, and go paddle!
BR:It'd be nice if "pro kayaing" were a true, accessible reality. Hate on the GoPro's and shameless plugs but I couldn't afford a boat at full price if I wanted to. Would be even better to just kayak all the time and be able to support a family. The real shame isn't the plugs, promotion, or content saturation... I think the real shame is the loss of quality documentation and photography and maybe even the gradual loss of our feeling of brotherhood in the community. Many people will only experience these places vicariously through those willing to share.
RCW:Any way people want to share their love for kayaking and the challenges, joys, and triumphs along the way beats 99% of everything else on Facebook. Just had my 2nd shoulder surgery so I'm a FB addict. Got a Go Pro? Post the best 10 sec clip of the day, shoot a selfie at the put in or takeout with the buds to show everyone how much fun you are having. Anything but driving a car or hiking - really tired of hiking / driving shots. Tag your sponsors, tag companies that aren't your sponsors but might want to 'share' the shot because it makes everyone who sees it feel good. Personally - I LOVE this stuff! Keep the shameless sponsor plugs and Go Pro selfies coming my way all you want. Keep it kayaking, keep it fun, keep em coming. Waiting on the next ear-dip Spirit Falls shot for that vicarious thrill - who's got me covered?
SK:If you're not doing it my way you're doing it wrong. What an awful, elitist attitude.
BJ:raise awareness for the new selfie paddle (pantent pending). what i have done is i took a kayak paddle removed the blades and strategically placed two go pros at each end! just imagine the possibilities! A go fund me page with selfies coming soon... GoBro's will support me all over the world, join the revolution.
Reflecting on the exchange, I started to feel like there was a real issue at the core here. I also didn't want strangers online to think that I was a douche, or to assume that Darin and I were enemies. I wanted a chance to redeem and explain both myself and Darin. I caught up with Darin McQuoid in an online chat interview about the entire argument. The transcript is presented here:
Leif Anderson:Hey Darin, so here's what I'm thinking. I'll have a couple questions, and I'll basically copy and paste our conversation to the blog, where I'll fix any typos and maybe streamline (meaning erase) boring parts. That sound ok to you?
Darin McQuoid:Yeah, sounds ok to me.
Leif AndersonOk, so first question:
Your original comment on facebook was "You know what kayaking needs more of? Shameless sponsor plugs. And GoPro selfies." How serious were you there? On a scale of 1 - 10, with 1 being "lighthearted joking and selfies are ok" to 10 being "why does nobody take this serious societal problem seriously"?
Darin McQuoidAfter being away from the internet for a few days I took look at facebook and all I saw (related to kayaking) were selfies and sponsor shout outs (pictures of a box of gear newly arrived). At the time I'd say it was a 1; an offhand comment. What a surprise when it took off and that people took an off-hand sarcastic post seriously, so maybe it is a 10. I do think it's a societal problem that goes beyond kayaking.
Leif AndersonSo the response seemed divided between those people that took it seriously and were pissed, and the people who feel like even posting selfies was still sharing the stoke; people who felt like any media, no matter how cliched, still just spread joy and appreciation of the sport. What's your response or comments on those two sides?
Darin McQuoidHmm, where to start? I think we all approach rivers and our love for them in different ways. I've always found kayaking to be about the places and a connection with nature. I'm sure other people have a different drive for paddling and that's ok too. Maybe for some people it does spread joy and appreciation for the sport, but personally a selfie has never inspired me to go kayaking.
I may be going to get a little off topic here: in a way kayaking selfies remind me of relationship selfies, where people feign a perfect life where everything is always awesome. Which kind of goes full circle to this post. I think the reason some people got upset is that as the kayaking industry has gone into decline, there can be a head-in-the-sand "everything is awesome" mentality where it's inappropriate to say anything negative or critical.
Leif AndersonNow we're getting to the core of it!
I definitely agree there.
Darin McQuoidIt's almost like kayaking has become a religion to people, and like religion there are some who believe you need blind faith to be a true believer, and any questioning of said religion is wrong; their way is the one and only path to enlightenment.
Leif AndersonTo play devil's advocate, as a somewhat pro, I've definitely found myself trying to talk up a day on the river for posts or videos. I feel like sponsors and fans don't want to hear "it was another average day," they want to hear that something exceptional happened. That sort of attitude can easily start to creep into the rest of one's world view.
Darin McQuoidEspecially with social media. Society has trended to instant gratification and sponsors are a part of our society. It's the reality of "professional" athletics in any obscure sport these days. It's more about your marketing than what you actually do - not to downplay some fantastic athletes who use social media for marketing, there are also incredible paddlers that aren't famous because they don't do any marketing.
Leif AndersonSo, to rehash some of the online comments, is there legitimacy to these professional concerns? Is it possible to be genuine and also super sponsored?
Darin McQuoidSure it is, it can be done with a lower percentage of selfies! :)
It's just more work, and that's the issue. Selfies and GoPro are easy, and kayaking doesn't pay that well.
Leif AndersonWhat is the appropriate path of the humble and righteous paddler (ha ha)? What is the gospel of McQuoid?
Darin McQuoidIf your goal is to "share the stoke" of kayaking, can't you share pictures of your friends and just occasionally yourself? For example, Leif, you have a page but you share more than pictures of you and Natalie.
I think more than anything it's a societal change that's reflected in kayaking, which tends to both reflect and magnify society.
Leif AndersonOoooo nicely put.
Periodically I find myself slipping into patterns where I post too much of ourselves. It takes an embarrassing amount of effort to make sure to include a few posts of other people.
Darin McQuoidPerhaps I show my age, as it's been said I came from the "me" generation and the new generations is the "look at me" generation.
Leif AndersonThat sort of leads in to my final question. Seems like no matter what you're doing, someone disagrees with you. Some commenters called you elitist. What's your response to that? Are you free of elitism (or reverse elitism)? Is it just a generational issue?
Darin McQuoidIt's true that you have an opinion, someone will disagree and that is ok. What's important is not polarizing, it's a thoughtless response. If preferring media with original, sincere content makes me elitist, well... Selfies and GoPro are the fast food of content. They have a place, but it shouldn't be the majority of our diet.
Leif AndersonOk, well, I feel like we've basically clarified and thought about everything that I wanted to hit. Do you want to plug any sponsors or anything before we go? (ha ha)
Any big part of the issue that we've left out?
Darin McQuoidI'm surprised that it's so rare to have or voice an opinion today. I'll fully admit to often being wrong, yet feel it's infinitely better to voice an opinion and listen to coherent responses than just be part of the herd.
Also, in the comments I was surprised that people can't laugh about the absurdity of spending a lot of time taking pictures of themselves and putting them on the internet. So far this is my favorite piece on selfies.
A Point of View: The tyranny of the selfie | BBC Magazine
If I may end with a quote from the article: "The self is an entity that easily atrophies. In the absence of disagreement and challenge we fall into patterns of like-mindedness, believing what others believe, dressing, feeling, thinking alike, fearing what isn't us, safe only in the company of people who take the same photographs of the same faces with the same cameras, until at last all life is one big indistinguishable selfie."