You know the type—the one who quits their job, buys a Westfalia and rides off into the pine-tree outlined sunset. Does this person sounds like you? While thousands have quit their jobs, taken to Craigslist, found a van, and hit the road in order to find meaning and a simpler way of living, the romanticism of this new-age beatnik lifestyle isn’t necessarily as much about “solitude” and “simplicity” as advertised.
There’s a fine line between motivation to seek the outdoors versus pursuing a glamorized representation of a lifestyle. Here’s a few signs you may be another victim of vanlife consumerism.
Social Media Addiction
While we can thank the likes of Pinterest for helping us build those bucket-list travel boards and Instagram for satisfying our craving for adventure porn, social media is also responsible for obsessive idealization. If you’re spending more time Instagramming your adventures than living them, or if you’re constantly scanning the horizon for the perfect image for your blog, this is a tell-tale sign you’ve become a cog in the consumer machine, which leads me to my next point.
The humble brag is probably one of the most hated social transgressions of all time. Have you ever caught yourself posting a picture of yourself, looking out into a valley or a morning lit range of mountains, drinking a cup of coffee and writing something like “Just soaking this all in #justanotherweekendadventure #getoutside”? Do you casually tell friends you run into how you’ve just only been on the road for two years and been to all 50 states—twice? Being more motivated by the reactions you’re getting via Facebook comments, Instagram likes and good old fashioned pats on the back than the call of wild might suggest you’ve fallen prey to the vanlife consumer trap.
Image Slave (Read: Beards and All Things Vintage)
If, in the pursuit of vanlife, you one day look in the mirror and find yourself wearing a non-seasonal beanie and facial hair gnarly enough to nest some squirrels, it might be time to consider if you’re more focused on an aesthetic than a lifestyle. The same goes for finding “the perfect” vintage van. Sure, they’re cool, and they look especially cool overlooking an oceanside cliff or in the middle of a Pacific Northwest forest in the filter of Valencia, but if it’s nature and solitude you’re looking for, you can probably find it in a Honda Civic if you really wanted to. Granted, you probably couldn’t build out a bed in a Civic, but the point is, if it seems like you’re more in search of a uniform than a way of life, it might be time to reconsider what’s motivating your interests.
Vanlife, traditionally, is about minimalism: living with less but experiencing more. But if drinking craft beer, brewing organic, $5-per-bean coffee and blogging on your Macbook Pro while navigating the wild is minimalism, we’re all in trouble.