Pro Surfers Discuss: The Social Media Struggle

Factory Dialogue: Social DistortionPhoto: Corey Wilson

This impromptu discussion happened at The Factory in Bali while SURFING’s editors kept the tapes rolling. This is not a formal interview, but, rather, a natural conversation that arose on our trip.

Date: May 19
Time: 7:15 p.m.
Place: The Factory Villa
People: Zander (Editor), Yadin Nicol, Eric Geiselman, Evan Geiselman and Yago Dora
Subject: Social Distortion

One at a time the boys sit down to dinner. Empty Bintangs occupy nearly every inch of real estate on our thick oak table and a strange nudie mag from China (thanks Brendan Buckley!) is sprawled out in the middle. With one hand I sip a beer, and with the other I scroll my way through countless posts on Instagram. Tap, tap and tapping away. Eric sits down last. He’s been strumming his guitar on the couch for an hour with his phone nowhere in sight.

Eric: We need to make a rule: No more phones at the dinner table.

[That gets the attention of everyone except Evan]

Eric: Evan! Put that thing down.

Evan: I’m texting Mom. She’s been hitting us up all day. Do you not check your phone?

Social Distortion DialoguePhoto: Corey Wilson

Yadin: [Throws his phone down] We are so heavy! It’s like I was saying this morning: I saw a post — on Instagram of course — of six bikes at the park, and it said: “In 1995, how you used to find your friends.” And then it had a photo of some kid on his phone, and it said “How you find your friends now.” F–k, that’s gnarly, right? It’s so true.

Zander: Social media has changed the way we think about everything — it’s all so image driven now. Remember when Andy Irons was winning everything? Think about how he dressed. Long ass Billabong trunks with the rising sun logo, white Arnette wraparounds, baggy jeans, tank tops…but everyone looked up to him and bought Billabong shit because he just f–king ripped.

Yadin: Yup. Now guys are wearing thrift store bullshit.

Zander: Which is fine. I just don’t like the apathetic card some guys are playing.

Yadin: Did you read that Beach Grit thing that Chas Smith wrote, asking something like: “Why are these kids so angry?” It was perfect.

Eric: It’s kinda heavy. But that shit’s selling!

Yadin: But it’s not selling, and that’s the thing — it put the surf industry in a f–king tail spin for awhile.

Evan: Imagine if Tiger Woods wore cutup thrift store stuff. [Laughs] Nike would trip out! Like, uh, why are we paying you?

Zander: Exactly. But it kinda feels like maybe that fad is in the past. But social media? That’s not going anywhere soon.

Eric: It’s f–kin’ wild.

Yadin: It’s not even social media, it’s Instagram. Look at it: How many people have subscriptions to SURFING?

Zander: Around 100 thousand.

Yadin: Exactly. But you have what, 500 thousand followers on Instagram?

Zander: 600 thousand I think, but way more than one person sees every copy of SURFING. Still, you make a good point: If you get a photo on SURFING’s Instagram, potentially as many people could see it as a spread. But how does getting a photo on Insta compare to the mag?

Social Distorion DialoguePhoto: Corey Wilson

[Three days into the trip and all four surfers — Yadin, Eric, Evan and Yago have all been featured on the @surfingmagazine Instagram and those same photos will also run in print. Each of ‘em has also posted about the trip multiple times on their own accounts, but the idea that they can post what happens as it happens without the fear of blowing the photo for the magazine is foreign. It’s never been done this way.]

Evan: I still think it’s way sicker to get a photo in the magazine. But being able to post photos from each day here has been cool.

Eric: Hey, so these Instagram photos from this trip will be in the mag?

Zander: Yes

Eric: What about a cover? Would you run a cover after it’s been on there?

Zander: Yep. It’s an experiment; this is the first time we’ve ever done it this way.

Eric: That’s the best.

Evan: Yags! Get off that thing.

Yago: Ahhh. [laughs]. Sorry I was just looking at this clip of Noa [Deane].

[Shows everyone]

Zander: Damn, that air was sick.

[Now Evan and Yadin pick up their phones to check Noa’s air]

Zander: We are hopeless.

Yago: [Laughs] Maybe no more phones…anywhere?

Social Distortion Factory Dialogue