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Are We Back?

Are we back to sharing regularly on Social channels? It's...complicated.

So with all these recent post on the socials, does that mean we’re back? No. Yes. Kinda but not really. 

Over the years, we’ve grown wary of social media and all its attendant and well documented pathologies both for the “audience” and the “content” creator. In truth, I find it an extraordinarily difficult eco-system to navigate if only because I have seen both the gross personal effects directly and the marvelous benefits as well. This push and pull between the positive and negative aspects have more often than not shaded more into the negative and unhealthy sphere for me and so I’ve deigned to keep the entire thing at arm’s length…and I swear to god if I meet another person that says “you guys really do act in real life the way you act in your videos” I’m gonna punch a puppy in the jaw(1).🐶🤛The stakes are that high.

To put a finer point on it, what these platforms have become—particularly Instagram (and its parent company Facebook)—make storytelling feel awfully inauthentic and overly difficult unless I essentially live on the platform, feeding it certain kinds of content and checking it constantly, which is precisely what the platform wants me—and you—to do. For example: We’ve been back in the States for over a year and we still receive messages surprised either that we’re in the U.S. or inquiring as to what part of Europe we’re in now. That’s pretty frustrating especially since we’ve posted often enough where we are—and it’s in our bio. 

This disconnect isn’t entirely the audience’s fault(2). However, the platform facilitates this kind of distracted and piecemeal form of following someone’s story by only displaying content a user has a high probability of engaging with. In our case, most of our followers seem to only engage by liking or commenting when we post an image of our vehicle. If we post a photo of some landscape or architecture that moved us or a portrait of someone who showed us extraordinary generosity, the post gets almost no interaction. If you think I’m whining ‘cause I didn’t get the like-candy, please read closely. It isn’t that we didn’t get the likes or comments but that the platform didn’t even show the image to more than 85% of the people who follow us because the post doesn’t enable the platform to earn money. 

We each—our attention, our preferences and our online habits—are the price of free. Finely tuned algorithms track our use habits and then target us for what it calculates are our preferences all so it can keep us on the platform longer in order to show us ads which is how these platforms make money—vast, grotesque amounts of it. But it isn’t only that it targets our preferences and gives us the content we want to see; the entire system is set up to stimulate our limbic system and keep us each hooked to scrolling and scrolling whether on our feed or, when that’s exhausted, on the “Discover” page(3). This is emphatically not a good thing. An enormous amount of ink both digital and analog has been spilled elucidating this topic and so I won’t delve into it here. Suffice it to say, if you’re not one to read the research on the deleterious effects this kind of limbic stimulation has on people, watch Netflix’s documentary The Social Dilemma. All this to say, if I don’t post a photo of our vehicle(4), the algorithm knows that the post has a chance of losing a user and so doesn’t display the image to more than 85% of our audience. This is why so many in our audience are lost as to where we are and don’t see what we post unless it’s a rig. Honestly, our story isn’t solely or even primarily about our rig, and this is why storytelling on Instagram et al has become inauthentic and extraordinarily difficult, at least for how we want to tell our story. 

To know that sharing and storytelling have been reduced to a monochromatic version of life as a result of a clever algorithm written by some “change-the-world-while-making-tens-of-billions of-dollars” Silicon Valley corporate behemoth makes this whole sharing-on-social-media thing feel less inspired, less authentic, less organic. Instagram, for me, used to be about the emergent and serendipitous discovery of new, inspiring places and people that resulted from taking an interest in a hashtag or following a recommendation from a friend. It used to be about finding something different that didn’t fall into my current preferences. True story: this is how we discovered our style of travel, through sheer serendipity on social media and then falling down the rabbit hole to different blogs. Now nearly the entire social media eco-system has become a bubble of one’s narrow preexisting interests as determined by one’s browsing and shopping habits (occasionally interrupted by slanted political activism and pandemic related propaganda). It’s fucking gross. Life is more interesting when it’s not curated.

So are we back? I don’t know. 

If you want to stay more up-to-date with what we’re up to, our Patreon is the place to go. We’ll also be posting more updates here on our blog. Don’t want to support us on Patreon? Consider getting some merch from our store.

*Note: if you’re seeing Google ads on this post—or any post for that matter—please let us know. We have tried disabling this feature on our site but it seems ads are still being displayed.


(1) No puppies have been punched. Yet.

(2) Admittedly, before I comment or send someone a message asking where they are, I take a few moments to see whether they’ve mentioned that at any point in the recent past. Maybe others can’t be bothered? If so, doesn’t that validate to some extent the idea that folks on these platforms are too distracted or anxious for the next new thing to take time to actually follow a story?

(3) Which, let’s be honest, is only more of the same kind of thing we already follow on our feed (unless there’s some current event the activists in Silicon Valley deem essential to shove down our throats at which point our Discover feed becomes a propaganda arm for the intersectional mob).

(4) Yes, machine learning algorithms know what the content of an image is. It will know if I’m posting a photo of a vehicle or a photo of a tree and will, based on the photo’s content, decide who best to show the image.

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Donny McQuary
Donny McQuary
9 months ago

I once again find myself reading your words and agreeing with and understanding most of what you are sharing. There are a handful of people whose content I always look forward to watching or reading but haven’t supported them on patreon. I need to change this. I’ve noticed this with Instagram, it’s just my personal account without many followers and am by no means aspiring to be an influencer, but it’s obvious if a picture I post doesn’t show my Jeep (just a regular Jeep that I haven’t spent thousands on to make “cool”) , it will only get a… Read more »

Russ
Russ
9 months ago

Hi welcome back, not back kinda sorta.
For the record to the both of you, I watch and read your posts, because well y’all seem like nice people and I like what I think I know about who you are. All what I just read is shocking to me, but probably shouldn’t be. Makes sense what you say , I thought all of those such as yourselves made some money on you FB or IG account. Please don’t give up on us readers. I will try and better educate myself as to how this shit works.

Russ

James
James
9 months ago

Welcome back? I guess. My wife and I always enjoyed your videos, insta write ups and photographs – even the ones of trees. Your writing style and on camera persona (not that that’s not the real you! Please don’t punch the puppy!), is humorous and engaging. Enjoy your lives, we’ll keep watching whatever and whenever you decide to post. If you decide to never post another image or video, that’s cool too. You both inspired us to travel and enjoy places we never thought we’d see. Thank you for that.

Alex
Alex
6 months ago

Thank you, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a fine line to walk. It’s become less about discovering new things and more about providing what we already like. I was actually looking you up to see if you had resumed posting and then saw I had never seen any of your last posts.
It can be both an inspiration and a curse.
personally I hope you guys start releasing a new travel series. best of luck

Amanda
Amanda
3 months ago

Hi guys, I’m so pleased to have read your article as I have learnt a lot about the social media platforms. I love your work (interested in your vehicle, but more interested in your wonderful ability to bring a place to life. A place I am unlikely to ever see). I have been following you just through YouTube for 2 years and was concerned when you disappeared. I looked up your website and your troopy was up for sale! Way confused 🙂 Then this series came out and I revisted your website. After reading your January 2021 article I understand… Read more »

Nathan Anderson
1 month ago

Crazy. I feel the exact same way about my Instagram and Facebook account. I’ve amassed followers that only care about my truck because that’s what the algorithm told me people were interested in. But the landscape photos and pictures of people garnered more comments and messages, more genuine interaction, but less “likes”. I see Patreon being a great tool for you and others like yourselves to share personal and real life updates with those of us who actually want to see your pictures of trees. Thanks for the inspiration today. Will be joining your Patreon soon.