Social media

Before Facebook, Instagram and blogging, it was fairly easy to disappear into the wilderness, choosing to share or not share experiences upon our return to civilization.

Social networking has been a game changer!

It's fun to share photos, videos and stories with our online friends; we've become an instantaneous society. Some may consider this egocentric behavior, but in reality I've found the hiking community to be generous with their information and experiences. Social networking can be just that, a way to bring together like-minded individuals.

The quality of writing and photography produced by many hikers is exceptional. Those who share experiences regularly bring to life their journey. It's not only a record for personal purposes, but it inspires, and turns reality into dreams and dreams into realities. For bloggers it's cathartic, for readers it's entertainment. Readers become your personal fan club. Most are excited about your adventures and want to learn from you by asking lots of questions. Some may want to help by making financial or gift contributions. Others want to be a part of your journey by becoming a trail angel. By sharing our stories, we put ourselves at risk of unintentional consequences.

Are you prepared for:

  • Surprise visits by fans?
  • Online harsh comments?
  • Use of your photo or stories without your consent?
  • Link of your blog to other sites?
  • Identity theft?
  • Home invasion?

What are some preventative strategies?

  • Delay posts (although estimating location based on mileage is still possible)
  • Limit identifiable information (such as your personal address, last name, etc.)
  • When meeting readers, treat them as strangers (they know more about you than you know about them)
  • Consider perceptions and reactions when posting about your vulnerabilities
  • Google search your real name, trail name, blog name occasionally
  • Create Facebook and Instagram pages to match your blog; limit your personal accounts

Additional etiquette tips:

  • Obtain permission before using photos and names of others in your blog
  • Give credit where credit is due (i.e. photos by others)

Enjoy the benefits of social networking. Be aware of how notoriety can propel you into rock star status with similar good, bad and ugly consequences. Privacy is a fallacy; selective use of personal information is today's reality. Set your own boundaries, accept them and move on.

This post was contributed by rock star Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Jan "Beekeeper" McEwen.