Recently I went on a hike with someone who I’d never met in person before. Someone I had only corresponded with via technology. Yes, I’m well aware that the last two sentences sound like something you’d see a story about on a TV show about catching child predators. Creepy, right? In some regards, yes. But there’s more to this.
Well over a year ago I went on a hike around a local state park with someone I had messaged quite often on Instagram about how awesome his sunrise photos were. Countless hikes later we’re good friends and I adore his family. It’s a little strange that I would know his parents and siblings, but the way that plans fell, it allowed this to happen and I also think this helped our friendship. But, lets take this back a few years.
Tumblr; you know, that one social media platform that was known for people posting risqué photos and videos of themselves… yeah. Well I used to be quite active on there and after going to an event put on by the Milwaukee Historical Society (Doors Open MKE) I browsed tags and found a bunch of photos from the weekends shindig. I happened to message someone about the places that they had been to and what their experience was like… and then that led to a good chunk of conversations and a few hikes/photo opportunities with him. This last fall we actually met up and went to a few Doors Open locations together with our spouses, his son, and my friend, Maggie. It was a lot of fun. I mean, come on, we went to the place where they make Cheeseheads!
But back to this last week’s outing. I met up in the driftless area with another person whom I had talked to via Instagram and texted a few times about my upcoming plans of going hiking in the driftless. We ended up meeting at Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area just outside of Lodi near Lake Wisconsin. Amber had her reservations but man, did we have some good conversation on the way up to the overlook, while also being kindly interrupted by little feet and excited shouts running past us from her four littles (whom are hilarious in their own right and true kids at heart). Instagram has definitely led to some interesting friendships formed. But Amber was one of the first who openly said that it’s interesting how this one specific social platform has connected her with many amazing artists and people who share the same believes and views as her, and I 100% agree. I’m very passionate about science and conservation (though, the true scientist that I am still leads to scepticism about some things) and have followed many people on the app who share the same believes as I do. But as much as people say to be gaurded, it’s interesting how connected we are to complete strangers using this application. It has definitely been a game changer for me; not only on how to fuels my creativity but how to use it effectively to get a message across or to find like-minded people. It’s quickly shifted from being about strictly photography to a place where people drum up business for their Etsy shops, where people feel safe sharing their thoughts about the political climate and other various uses (like videographers posting quick clips of things that they’re working on). It’s truly an amazing app.
Also, to those of you who I haven’t mentioned that I’ve met through the app (Krissy, Alex, and Sarah, thank you guys for your hikes and neverending inspiration to keep exploring lovely places around my home).