The main reason I use Instagram is to convince myself that my life is as packed with fun and adventure as I’d like it to be. I work my subject matter–trail running, my dog, my baby, and trails from the Hudson Highlands to the Adirondacks –in such a way so as to present things as they might appear in a Patagonia catalog, an REI blog post, or as the subject of an episode of The Dirtbag Diaries.
Or at least I try. Sometimes I just post pictures of the baby playing with something, like a bandana or a musical turtle, but the goal of my body of insta-work is to portray some sort of dream life, and that my crazy job in advertising doesn’t even register on the scale of things I do. The way I measure how well I’m doing this is to compare myself to people who are doing the same thing, but way better than I do it. These people (well, mostly their Instagram accounts) give me a bit of something I’m calling instagrenvy.
I think I do a pretty good job. After all, I do get outside a lot for hiking, running, and general frolicking. My dog and baby are about as cute as anything I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been holding on to a tenuous balance between work and life. My instagram photos tell a fairly accurate, albeit highly curated, story about my life, but the people who give me instagrenvy seem to do it with half the effort I do. My perception is that their adventure-life and fun-having are native to their existence, whereas mine are constantly fighting for survival.
Why do I think this? I don’t really know. Aside from professional athletes like Tony Krupicka, everyone has to balance fun with obligations , even professional types with seemingly dreamlike existences (I’m looking at you Grayson Schaffer), and I’m sure even TK has to do something other than blasting up the mountains around Boulder all day long.
The nice thing about Tony and Grayson is that they live very far away from me, which allows me to write off their level of radness as something that doesn’t really exist.
But it’s not so easy for me to dismiss the radness of people who live on the East Coast like I do, and it’s especially difficult when they either live very close to me or very close to where I grew up.
There’s a bike shop in Woodstock, NY called Overlook Bicycles, which is only an hour and a half from where I live now, and only about ten minutes from where I grew up, and their Instagram is pretty much perfect. It’s all bikes, Catskill Mountain trails, beer, coffee, and community, all of which give me great amounts of instagrenvy , and it makes me wonder why I can’t just switch up a few things and live in that world too.
Another one is West Kill Brewing. These guys are starting a brewery in the Catskill Mountain town of West Kill, and if you look at their Instagram, you’ll be immersed in a beautiful, rustic wonderland of beer, beards, and peace.
Perhaps my greatest instagrenvy comes from the Instagram account of the Brooklyn Trail Runners. They are, without a doubt, the merriest band of mountain/trail/ultra runners this side of the Mississippi river. Sure, they run a lot of trails in Prospect Park, but they also do a ton of running and insta-posting in places like the Hudson Highlands and the Catskills, despite the fact that Manhattan, the Bronx, and several bridges stand between them and those places. They have struck an almost impossible balance between urban life and trail life. They give me the ‘grenvy, big time.
The Instragram of the Phoenicia Diner makes me feel two terrible things: hunger and homesickness. It exists minutes from my childhood home, and manages to span several worlds within the 109 miles that separate it from my current home. Look at their account if you long to hike and eat, and be prepared for your longing to grow.
Lymbus Life is an ad agency that focuses entirely on outdoor sports. They’ve worked with Killian. Their Instagram is almost entirely photos of mountain running and skimo. It’s just not fair. Granted, they’re in Europe, which is not at all near where I live, but my instagranvy of them is so great I just had to put them on the list.
I’m not gonna lie; there are a lot more instagrams to add to this list, but I need to cut it short because otherwise it’ll take all day. I follow 577 people, many because I like to escape vicariously into the worlds of those with a super cool existence. Isn’t that what Instagram is for?