The GoPro…blem

GoPro makes great products, that is a fact, and the company’s success certainly proves it. The problem is the mindset it contributes to create for more and more GoPro owners. I see many people coming to scuba diving with the primary goal of going back with a video of themselves in the activity, rather than enjoying the experience first.

Totally tapping into millenials’ individualism, self-image insecurities and craving for “experiences”, GoPro has done a hell of a job marketing its products to aspiring modern adventurers, with slogans like: “Be a Hero”, “Heroes never stop”.

In reality, for most of them, owning a GoPro makes them as close to a hero, as owning a gym membership makes you an athlete.

Sorry but there are no shortcuts to be a hero. It’s about having strong values and a lot of hard work… I hear already some say: “but it’s OK to say that, it’s just marketing!!!” Yup, I agree, it’s bullshit, the problem is most buyers end up forgetting about it and that’s where the problems start.

Wow Samantha, you’re such a hero!

What I can tell you is that I see many people coming to scuba diving with less interest for the ocean, fishes, the beautiful islands and gorgeous coral reefs, than for their beautiful, travelling, adventurous selves.

It seems like their experience is not complete until it has been shared on Instagram or Facebook. In my view, the latter may be the cherry on the “experience” cake, but not a significant part of the experience itself.

I understand that for some, diving next to a manta or swimming next to a whaleshark is a dream. I know because it was for me.

What I do not like is when personal safety and the environment are compromised because of all-around laissez-faire, i.e. “any client should be able to take a video anytime, because it is their holidays and the customer is king”…

Recently, I heard:

When will we have connection?” , “Can you take a video of me?“, “When will we see a shark? I would really like to have one on camera

and recently: “Do you have octopus around here? Because I would really like to have a shot of an octopus wrapped around my arm

As for many other technologies, GoPro promises an easy solution for people to take decent footages of their holidays, and precious moments. I do not challenge that in itself, this is great. The problem comes when this is coupled with bucket list mentality, social media connected lives, FOMO, and a race to followership. All of these aggravating factors are of course not the responsibility of GoPro alone, since they are also emphasized and nailed down by the ads produced by the lazy majority of marketing departments worldwide adressing these demographics.

My personal problem is that divers who believe they should record every randomly cool moment spent under the water disregard diving safety basics, increasing dangers for themselves, possibly others and damages to the environment they are priviledged to visit, for example:

  • A diver sees a whaleshark or manta ray cruising over its head. The diver instinctively stands upright, frantically grabbing its camera and finning up towards the animal in hope of a close, money shot. He does not realise he is shooting straight up to the surface, and risking decompression sickness or lung overexpansion injuries.
  • A diver goes through a swim through between rocks and realises midway he would like to have a video of that. He tries with difficulty to turn around within the narrow space, asking its buddy to take the video. He risks bumping his head on the rock / on a poisonous species, and damaging its scuba equipment whilst he and his buddy probably kick and break a few beautiful sea fans and corals in the process.
  • A diver wants to take a closeup shot of a small creature, but having mediocre buoyancy skills, crashes/kicks on the coral with its fins, and possibly kick one of his buddy when he tries to resume to a more normal swimming position.

Shouldn’t a diver have the humility of recognising his lack of experience, less-than-perfect buoyancy skill and want to improve before showing to the world how much of a “hero” he or she is?

I’m a partisan of the enforcement of tougher rules when it comes to photo/video in outdoor sports, and for diving, specifically:

  • no camera on the first dive: focus on good buoyancy and enjoy it with your eyes first.
  • no camera without the Underwater Photography specialty

Do you agree with this, or do you think I am a grumpy old man?

If you are a professional in scuba diving or another outdoor sport professional: what are your thoughts? How do you deal with it?

Drop a comment in the section below

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