Today, after so many months of consideration, I finally created an independent website for the hiking events. It was a huge decision for me, not from the technical point of view. I was extremely fearful that very basic principles of what I was trying to achieve through these hikes fall apart by creating a website for the hikes.
If you’re following the events and my posts from the very beginning, i.e. from February 2017, you might remember me speaking of “autonomous democracy”, which was first mentioned in the post of March 2017, but the idea itself dates back to some point much earlier. It is, as a matter of fact, fairly simple: when an entity is created, whether it is a nation, an organisation or whatsoever, you don’t require anyone to be the leading figure, but each single person acts following their moral and conceptual understanding of the plan. Although this idea itself is extremely simple, in reality it is rarely implemented; we’re today still very much accustomed to having, praising or blaming leading figures.
The hiking events were for me the perfect field of small social experiments. My idea was very simple: I post the event in the Internet, then I let the people figure out what happens in which moment, from how to get gathered to when to have a break etc., but all this without telling them that it was a social experiment for me. The understanding that I gained was tremendous; the success varied from person to person, often depending on their countries of origin, but then also the historical backgrounds depending on the ages that they lived in those countries. And not rarely there were people who openly found it wrong to let participants decide what to do.
Still, I never said “we do it this way in this group”, mainly because it would have raised another question: what is “this group”?
There has actually not only been no website, but also there’s no Facebook group, no permanent WhatsApp group and even more, this “group” has no name. Every single event had its own Couchsurfing page and WhatsApp group. The participants varied largely. Indeed, there could be an official name and an official group. Yet to this day, I still wonder whether the sensation of belonging to a group is constructive or destructive. At least looking at the human history, and also maybe looking at today’s society, I might find it rather distasteful to belong to something. Especially, history tells us that the hidden danger is larger than we think. And so even if it’s just only about a hiking group, I don’t want anyone to think there should be any group to belong to by any standard.
All this could fall apart, if there’s a centralised website where people identify themselves as something. Basically I was simply thinking, Couchsurfing has been attracting some people, why should I take it to the next level?
My mind changed on two occasions.
About a year ago, I was invited to the birthday party of one of the regular participants of the hikes, a delightful person that everyone loved to spend time with. I went there, and found out all the guests were from the hiking events. It was only afterwards that I learned she had no friend elsewhere. Likewise, several birthday parties followed over the course of the year, and pretty much every time I saw the same situation. Indeed, over time I also noticed that it didn’t matter how wonderful these people were, there was a significant proportion of people who don’t know anyone elsewhere, which is seemingly inherent to the social structure of today’s world. And the hikes became the place for refugees to look for locals to talk with, and for locals to encounter expats. Their backgrounds and motivation varied strongly depending on the people, but at least it wasn’t just a question of hiking. In this random crossroads, people come and go, and each occasion becomes a precious unforgettable moment. If the hikes hadn’t been there, these people might have never been connected.
The other occasion arrived when one of the participants was telling me he used to travel abroad over weekends before he started joining us on the hikes. Indeed there are cheap flights that connect virtually every single city here in Europe. But already yesterday there was an article on BBC talking about the carbon emission. One way or other, I don’t fly, but I cannot force other people to follow me according to my personal moral standards. However, I can make you see that you don’t have to fly to Italy to have a great view over a valley, you don’t have to fly to London to meet great people. What really matters is to have a platform where people can see alternatives to their activities.
Some time in the future, I’ll certainly look back and think of this moment. Maybe what I’m doing right now is not as promising as I’m thinking right now. Yet, rather than staying back for being fearful of making mistakes, I’d firmly believe in a better future and make a step forward. So here you are, the new website for the hiking events. Please look forward to the future developments.