Look at Me! Look at Me!

I’m gonna be the old man on the porch. It needs to be said.  

GrabbedShot 2017-08-15 at 2.40.17 PM
YouTube: The Mocko Show

The times they are a-changing.  And they’re changing fast.  Things that would have been viewed by most people as completely insane just a few short years ago, are now becoming ubiquitous.  I recently finished a run on a bike path where I live, and the majority of the people riding bikes (the vast, VAST majority) were either filming themselves, taking photos of themselves or facetiming somebody.  

One guy was laid across the entire southbound lane of the bike path on his stomach with a DLSR so he could take photos of a girl who was posing in a bikini.  When I ran back by 45 minutes later, he was still there, doing the exact same thing, still laid across the bike path.

I get it.  The allure of social media status has completely outweighed everything else.  The ability to exist in any situation completely depends on the amount of attention you think you could be getting.  If you think you can garner enough, you’ll do something as outrageously ridiculously as lying across an entire bike lane for almost an hour, blocking hundreds of people’s path and completely forgoing any amount of respect you may have had for your fellow citizens.  Not to mention those last shreds of personal pride.   

I honestly never expected it to bleed into the trail and ultra scene quite so hard and quite so fast.  The entire allure of trail running for me was as an escape.  To get away from all the bullshit.  To leave my phone and my inbox and the rest of the world behind, to get out on the trails away from all the commotion and be present.  It helps me balance out the rest of my life.  My screen time, my poor eating choices, too much sitting… all these things can be mitigated by a long, hard mountain run.  You come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  

It’s essentially the opposite of what Jamil Coury does.  When was the last time that guy went on a run without a camera?  Then he comes back and whines into the camera for eight and half minutes about how stressed out he his, how much editing he has to do, and how it’s so important for him to get his videos out to “to his fans”.  Like there’s some sort of hard deadline being imposed by someone.  Like all his “fans” are gonna die if they can’t watch his next video where he shows off the new car he just got

The V-log/Snapchat/Instagram Story thing is probably what has gotten to me most.  The mumbling The lack of quality is appalling.  If you’re gonna produce content, edit it.  Nobody wants to want watch you say “uhhhh”  75 times in a six-minute video.  Would it be that big of a deal to write some thoughts down on an index card?  I would expect this from someone as dull as Sage Canaday.  But we know that Jamil can put out quality content.  He does it once a week with his Mountain Outpost newscast.  When you script what you’re going to say, or maybe even just think about it a little bit, it isn’t quite as appalling.   In fact, sometimes it’s really good.

Chris Mocko, who is definitely the posterboy for “how to be an ultra douchebag”, was actually writing some decent content on his Medium-hosted website.  I mean, it was somehow all about money and and how he quit his tech job, but at least he was sitting down and formulating content.  He was creating something that he obviously gave a little bit of thought to.  

GrabbedShot 2017-08-15 at 2.16.37 PM
YouTube: The Mocko Show

Then, apparently he realized how easy it was to just film himself walking through Costco rambling about nothing and throw the video up and get a couple thousand easy views.  Why bother sitting down and typing out an article?  It’s all becoming pretty unbelievable.  Here’s a guy who has one successful 100-mile finish under his belt on a course with a net elevation loss and he has the audacity to title a series of videos: “How to Train for UTMB”.  What does he know about it?  Has he run the race before? And no one calls him out on this shit?  It’s just a big circle jerk.  

Billy Yang probably spent more time editing the trailer for The Unknown than Chris Mocko has spent on his entire 50+ vlog catalog, including the conceptualization and editing (Ha! Just kidding, Mocko doesn’t edit).  It’s really sad that someone who takes the time to actually THINK about his content (and this is obviously understating it enormously) is getting the relative same amount of views as someone like Mocko or Canaday.

(Full disclosure: I have never watched a Sage Canaday v-log.  A long time ago, my Youtube autoplay cued up one of his videos and he was supposedly just finishing a 20 miler in the middle of a 100 mile week and he goes, “Just finished a 20 miler, getting the legs nice and sore going for a 100 mile week.”  Then he points at the camera and and says, at the absolute apex of douche:  “Don’t try this at home.”  I had just finished a 100 mile week, despite having a full-time job and getting no support from anybody.  So I immediately turned it off and vowed never to watch him again. He might be scripting his content, but from what I’ve heard, it’s chock full of “ummm” barrages and repetitive, tangential garbage.)

At the end of the day, however, it’s not their fault.  These guys are trying to make a living doing what they love.  Sure, they might be bastardizing the hell out of something that has given them so much, something that they purport to love, but apparently they don’t see any other way.  

The fault here lies with the community.  It lies with us.  Mocko isn’t throwing in the towel on his website and focusing solely on his stellar YouTube content because he gets less views there.  He’s doing it because he gets a lot more.  Is this what we really want?  Is this really how you want to spend our time.

The argument against this usually goes something like this: Chris Mocko is sharing with the community.  He’s putting himself out there and inspiring tons of people.  He’s a saint, paragon and a model of excellence. Anyone who says anything bad about him or what he’s doing is an asshole. Period.  

It’s funny how these arguments always sound dogmatic (and I would know, I’ve got the Reddit comments to prove it).  It’s always “if you don’t like it, don’t watch” or some other such sentiment that completely misses the point. Someone comes with a solid, logical argument about why something is inherently bad or dangerous or annoying and you never, ever get any logic back.  

You just get people who are upset for some reason simply because I said something that wasn’t positive.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  I could have said that Chris Mocko smells like shit and the reaction would be the same as if I said I hate his YouTube channel and think that it’s bad for the running community and the world.

This is why someone like Dakota Jones is forced to opine about social media use in an entirely satirical way.   And while this is funny, all he’s doing is normalizing these things.  Despite what seem to be the best intentions, he’s really only making things worse. It’s the Satire Paradox, something Malcolm Gladwell does an amazing job illustrating here.  

But when I read Dakota Jones’s piece or stumble across a funny comment in a Strava activity like this one:

GrabbedShot 2017-08-15 at 1.52.14 PM
God, I love Tim Tollefson.

I can’t help but feel slightly hopeful.  Hopeful for our attention spans, hopeful for humanity, hopeful that pure vanity isn’t going to win out. There are the guys and girls out there who are doing it right.  Tim Tollefson would never pull this shit.  Mike Foote does just fine making a living from running without being a douchebag in the slightest.  You can even have a huge presence, like Emilie Forsberg, without compromising your humility.  

Can you imagine Jeff Browning filming himself saying “Any runner can get a free pair of socks or a few gels… but how about a full shoe sponsorship?!?” and then proceeding to dance around in praise of himself for the next three minutes?  Why is this acceptable?

Time is a valuable commodity and whenever I watch one of these videos, I feel like I’ve wasted time I can’t get back.  I feel like I’m losing touch with the world.  I feel like everyone has lost their mind.  I feel like an old man on the porch trapped in a 30-year-old body.  I’ve vowed to stop.  I can’t do it anymore.  My only hope is that you will stop too.  Stop consuming this garbage.  Take a stand.  Vote with your time.  I’ll tell you right now, your time is much more valuable than this:  

GrabbedShot 2017-08-15 at 2.13.37 PM
YouTube: Vo2 Max Productions


Recently, Kendrick probably said it the best:  Be Humble. Sit Down.


44 thoughts on “Look at Me! Look at Me!

  1. Pingback: Ultramarathon Daily News | Wed, Aug 16 | Ultrarunnerpodcast

  2. You hit the nail on its head! I am also annoyed by the tendency to spam the social media with “content” which is actually lacking content. When I write a blog or create a Video, I try to add quality – and not just to produce quantity and by this they produce “noise”.

    For me as a reader or listener or spectator it becomes increasingly difficult to find the Information within the sea of white noise.


  3. Wing Taylor

    I think you should rename this “I don’t like Jamil Coury, Sage Canaday and Chris Mocko”. While there’s no denying that, in general, there is more video and photography happening across the board in the world, and I’m happy to participate in the debate about the intrusiveness, your examples seem isolated and exaggerated in my opinion. So you saw one dude being a douche with a DSLR one time, And you don’t think Mocko deserves to discuss UTMB training, And you’re offended by Sage because you run 100 miles in a week and have a full time job (a lot of folks can say the same). So yeah – don’t watch. Just do your thing.

    I’m out running daily on a trail network that is easily accessible to millions of people here in North Vancouver. And I would say the VAST majority of runners and mountain bikers I see are NOT using video or film equipment. Maybe 5% or less (yes, I am sometimes among that 5%). Sure, at the few locations that are huge tourist destinations, the percentage is much much higher, but most daily runners avoid those areas to stay away from congestion. On the rest of the trails I rarely see it. The peace and escape you desire (and most of us desire) is still easily accessible even here where two million people are within a 45 minute drive of the trailhead. I really don’t think this is a problem. You just seem to dislike a few of the creators.

    And on the plus side (for me anyway), I would have never believed I could participate in this sport without the online content creators. They are how I found out that so called “normal” people can actually do these races through hard work and training. And now I am doing them and have had a pretty major positive life transformation because of it. So thank you ultra trail running for that. And yeah, thank you online content creators for giving me a window into this world so I could see that it was possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is entertaining. You used the EXACT SAME arguments that the author said.
      1. It’s inspiring.
      2. Scroll on by.

      Are you saying that you wouldn’t have been inspired by someone like Billy Yang who makes great material or by movies such as Finding Traction or Diamond to the Rough? That it is only half-baked productions that can be inspiring? That people shouldn’t try?


      1. Wing Taylor

        Your tone is a lot like the author’s. I am glad I am being entertaining. Yeah, I’m aware that my reaction is the one he predicted. So what?

        Of course I love Billy Yang’s work. I like Unbreakable too. And Running On The Sun. And Soul Runner. And I’ve read several of the books. And I read the blogs.

        I don’t happen to watch Chris Mocko or Sage much anymore. I do happen to watch Jamil’s content. And Ethan’s.

        But I don’t have a problem with Chris Mocko’s YouTube channel existing – even if it is lower quality. I can choose to watch it or not watch it. I don’t see any reason why the “Scroll On By” argument is a bad one nor how it can be dismissed.

        My problem with the piece is that it starts with a claim that the “vast majority” of runners on the trails are filming themselves. I don’t find that to be true. At all. Not even close. And THEN after making that claim, he chooses to bash a few specific folks about their content or methods.

        Well that’s two different topics.

        The first topic – I just disagree. The majority are NOT filming themselves. This guy just really seems to have a problem with the few that do (I read a couple of his earlier posts on that topic which are much funnier – I would stick with the humor angle it plays better).

        And the second topic – is the content being produced garbage? If it is – don’t watch it. Simple. If enough people agree with you and stop watching it, it will cease to exist.

        One more thing – the author is “just another trail runner with a blog”. A blog that seems to be funny sometimes, so I am down with that. But I don’t think you can have a blog and really claim any “purist trail runner cred” high ground on this topic. If you really wanted to “become one with the mountain and achieve flow” you can do that all by yourself without drawing attention to it with a blog.


  4. Abdulah the Great

    Awesome. It needs to be said. Even if the backlash is so predictable.

    I wouldn’t put Sage in the same bag as Mocko, though. Sage’s videos started out as a way to share training advice with amateur runners: recommended workouts for different distances, racing advice, etc. With time, it grew organically into what it is now, more of a vlog where he shares some of his runs, race recaps and opinions. I think Sage responded to what his followers demanded, content that’s more about him and what it’s like being an elite MUT runner.

    Mocko, out of nowhere, decided to build his online persona on a very tiring shtick (spelling?) in order to increase his marketing value to possible sponsors. It’s all very forced, really, and it’s a pity because I usually like him in interviews. I too was appalled when I saw the How to Train for UTMB. Like he would know…

    Jamil… I’m torn here, because he produces some great videos but at the same time lots of dull crap about himself and how hard it all gets sometimes (tear).

    I hope RDs will have the balls to ban cameras on their course at some point and limit them to aid stations and a few spots elsewhere.

    People looking for an escape need to go back to the roads, man. I’d rather mind the traffic than countless morons with selfie sticks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff S

    Sage Canaday is an extremely experienced marathoner and ultra runner, his content is really valuable to novices like myself. Experienced elitists like yourself may not care for it – don’t watch it.


    1. Wing Taylor

      I’ve realized now that this is the same blogger who bashed Sage previously in his piece about how much he idealized Tony Krupicka. He just seems to hate Sage. Hey, Bobby – reminder – Tony Krupicka was never shy about his goals on a race course. He called his shots on course records in much the same way as Jim Walmsley. And I have no problem with that – but you seem to just want trail running to be a certain way – “pure” in some sense – for yourself. And anyone not conforming to your vision of it is just ruining the sport. Anyway- keep pounding out the blog – it makes for entertaining reading.


  6. Dombivali Kalyan

    I find Bobby’s post really sad actually. To spend the time bashing people making content he’s uninterested in is a less productive way to spend one’s time than actually watching the content. And if he thinks his opinion is superior to others – as in he’s right because he’s so eloquent in presenting his reasoning (hint: he _isn’t_) – then he’s even more “dangerous.” He’s an elitist. He’s the self-appointed czar of what we should and shouldn’t do with our time – of what should and shouldn’t entertain us. God forbid he gets access to anyone’s porn collection!


  7. Gabriel Contreras

    Great observation of the stupid! Don’t forget the,” Ginger runner and Billy Yang” it’s like watching the Ellen show of positively in nausea!


  8. Jeroen

    Dear Bobby,

    If touch don’t like it, don’t watch.

    After reading tour content I feel you do not have the right to bash other peoples content, yours is no netter (and a lot less positive)


  9. Anonymous Content Creator

    i looked your previous articles… you could have thrown some of your own content in there to bash as well. you know, the ones with photo selfies, or the other ones with photos ripped without providing credit with summarized race predictions ripped from places like irunfar? 🙂

    the hypocrisy is evident


  10. Brian Moody

    ***breathing deep, resisting the urge to say nasty things***
    When you are writing your next blog post, please consider the following:
    –The people who you are attacking are real human beings, with families and feelings. As far as I know, they haven’t attacked you. Do you need to attack them so disparagingly?
    –Community is the one aspect of our sport that unites front runners, back-of-the-packers, RD’s, and volunteers. Are you contributing to the community or detracting from it?
    –You are entitled to your opinions about running media, but do your public critiques have to be so derogatory? Do insults like “dull” or “douche” helps runners create media in the future that you will like?
    –Might your critiques be more useful sent directly to the content creators themselves? What needs are served by making these critiques in a public setting? Does it “need” to be said publicly as your title suggests?


  11. Steve

    We get it, your Dad didn’t hug you enough and girls are mean. Seems like this acticle says a lot more about the author than any of the guys he takes shots at.

    Never met Chris Mocko but he seems like a cool dude to me. You need to chill.


  12. J-Dog

    I see nothing wrong with people taking videos and taking lots of pictures while out on a run. Taking pictures and video while out there is a easy and practical way to remember the where and what you ran. I also disagree with the statement that a vast majority of people are out there taking pictures and videos of themselves. I frequent a very well used bike path and I have never seen someone filming themselves or taking selfies. I live in upstate New York, maybe its different in more populated areas, like San Francisco, Seattle etc.


  13. rerererere

    yeah the content is boring but u can hardly fault them for doing it. youtube narcissism as profession is our new hell reality now, ultrarunners are just living in it. if u cant accept that ur probably just getting old.


  14. Andy

    Fair enough to critique someone’s content that they put out there – but to call someone outright ‘dull’ is uncalled for.

    As someone who recently got into running, Sage’s videos keep me inspired. Will keep watching him!


  15. Kris

    I really like Sage’s advice, and I love to watch the mountain running videos from Sage and Jamil with my three year old. It’s the only way I have to show her what running in great places is like, because she’s so young. It’s also a great way for me to see what’s out in the world in places I’ll never get to visit. I also think your points are fair! Some content is quite boring, particularly the non-running daily life vlog stuff.


  16. EMW

    I totally agree with the sentiments here, but not the execution.

    Canaday isn’t a naturally slick media personality, but his massive catalogue of coaching videos is superb. Personally I’m less interested in the training vlogs, but each to their own, I’m sad these are what the author is judging him on.

    I’m also surprised this rant doesn’t apportion some of the blame toward brands who are actively destroying the meritocracy of running by selecting to financially support mediocre “athletes” with big online personalities as opposed to the introverts who train themselves to within an inch of their lives and get regular podium spots. I remain hopeful though, the grafters who can only afford a pair of trainers and their coaching fees are far more inspiring than an average joe or jane with a fancy camera who is unwilling to make the massive personal sacrifices required for athletic success. Hopefully the internet – and brands – will recognise that again soon.


  17. Chris

    Everyone has an opinion and comments. That’s what makes the world go round. Just like your article here. Technology has progressed to where everyone can express themselves however and whenever they want. There’s good content and bad just like in movies, books, tv, magazines, blog posts and now social “public” media. It’s always up to the individual to partake or not in these items.


  18. Brian

    This is such a humble piece. I congratulate you on showing a complete lack of self-importance. You truly understand what this is all about and exude wisdom with every word.


  19. Brian

    This is such a humble piece. I congratulate you on showing a complete lack of self-importance. You truly understand what this sport is all about and exude wisdom with every word.


  20. Not A Douchebag

    You’re such a douche, Bobby. Yes, I’ve resorted to the same low level as you – name calling of someone I don’t know. Of someone that spent their time producing some content that I don’t agree with. Of someone that has a family that might read this comment. Of someone that may feel bad about themselves because of this anonymous cyber-bullying. I’ve resorted to the level of some know-it-all, self-important blogger. Because it had to be said. Right, Bobby? Do yourself a favor. Kill this article. Then sit down and re-write it. Express your feelings in a way that doesn’t belittle those you’re writing about. Express your opinion as just that. Your opinion – not a manifesto on how the ultra community should function, based solely upon your own desires and preferences. In other words Bobby, express your First Amendment rights without being a douchebag, just as those you criticize have been doing.


  21. Wally_Runner

    Bobby, reading your poorly written rant, just wasted a few minutes of my life and I can’t get it back! If you have nothing valuable to add, please adhere to your own policy, and don’t post crap. much appreciated.


  22. Adam Talan

    omg people enjoy youtube videos wow really must be so upsetting for you while your trying to live your life and be such a disconnected mountain purist, thank god your here to shed your light on what should be considered good and bad content. you are more obnoxious than any of these videos and i barely even watch them. go live your life enjoy your runs and let people do whatever the fuck they want


  23. Paul

    Maybe it’s a U.S. thing because I’ve never seen a single runner out on the trails in the UK with a video camera. That said, I can run for miles sometimes and not come across another runner.

    Anyway, very well put. There are plenty of people putting out lots and lots of very generic, dull content; just to get out another 4 or 5 minutes on yet another day. And then there are some extremely inspiring videomakers, like Billy Yang and Ethan Newberry. Less is definitely sometimes more.


  24. Brady

    If you watch shit on social media that you don’t like that’s on you. Why spew negativity about people who are trying something new?


  25. Pingback: Publicity, Sponsorships, Social Media | Random Forest Runner

  26. Wow, well written article! Much needed call out as well. I was recently perusing instagram and decided to visit a runner who was jus sponsored by a shoe company even though all she did was get a podium finish at a well known race. One good finish, that’s it and now her entire feed is inundated by this brand. As consumers we want to read about real life experiences that have depth and wisdom or if not those traits at least give us authentic. The real you. Maybe the trouble is that some people are not real yet within themselves or in the world.


  27. Tyrtle

    I’ve seen a few of Sage’s videos, and in about 30% of them I was reminded that he went to Cornell.

    Best article I’ve read in a long time


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