Welcome to the 21st century. The internet has been changing paradigms and changed the way of living. What used to taken a hundred years to happen now takes days. The steps are not only bigger now, but also faster, and to keep the rhythm, we need to always not only be running, but running faster and faster. And the race never ends. If five years ago you had only your orkut, now you have to manage facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, pinterest, and many other social accounts. Very tiring right? But everything is easier, or so it seems, when the whole world is accessible in the palm of your hand. After all, this frenetic pace is one of the reasons for the boom in new technologies. Indeed, the pace is a result of the new techs, and the new techs rely on the pace. One cannot live without the other.
And what does surfing have to do with this? Nobody goes to the water and keeps on checking their emails or social network, and the more friends you have on facebook will never translate the best barrel of the day. The surf in itself has nothing to do with the internet. It could even be seen as an escape from it – after all, water and electricity do not mix. But the internet has a lot to do with the surfer, with the person. Who does not have a look at the bulletins and forecasts of waves before going surfing? And that’s just the most basic feature, because the internet has created a space that no other media ever gave to surfing. In a sport that is not among the more traditional in any country, alternative media was perfect and had encouraged industry, either through online features, webclips or the transmission of events. Despite the fact that the surf stayed the same, everything changed for the surfer. And I dare say that, proportionally, surf was one of the sports that most benefited and gained ground with the internet, leaving behind the established in the “old” media, who already had their space.
The commercial “boom” also targeted the sport. Now we have professional surfers, free surfers, big wave riders, plus a bunch of other categories, along with a seemingly never-ending flow of accessories that serve to help us catch a wave.
Out of all the categories, big-wave surfing stands alone in terms of using new technology to help the sport. Forecasts, jet skis and more appropriate boards are only a part of evolution. Much of the growth is due to the increasing number of photographers and videographers, and the growth of the space available to publish their images. It’s not just in magazines anymore. I imagine that twenty years ago a guy could surf some bombs in Mavericks and go unnoticed – a very ungrateful destiny to those who risk their lives in the middle of mountains of water. Nowadays, any wave surfed will be recorded from several angles, including the surfer’s own. Nothing happens without being recorded anymore. What’s perhaps the best of all is the fact that if none of the magazines want to publish your images, the internet gladly will. The impact will be huge, perhaps even greater than in a print magazine.
The question that I pose about all this is how much some of these new big riders really love big wave surfing or if they are living by the philosophy “I will do anything to appear…” I’ve heard a professional surfer say that if no one is there to document the waves, he prefers not to go out in big conditions. Is he really wanting the wave, or just to make a photo? Of course, when it’s really firing, the adrenaline must remove any thoughts of photos or videos, and all you want is to complete that wave. But when they leave the water, is the concern about whether the swell will get bigger or the wind will turn off, or is the main focus the photos and what to do with them? Surfers became an eternal self-promotion guy, which is not only annoying but far from what surfing really is.
Do we really need to prove ourselves to others? If that’s the case, then go big for your Instagram.