Beyon d PIXELS
This month … Simon Owen explains how a hiking group for geeks helps him unknot his brain
Simon Owen sings the praises of DigiHike; a walking group for techy types
Trying to learn everything about web development is an impossible task, yet people seem to try anyway. This can lead to burnout and mental health issues.
I am involved with a few web meetup groups, and I’ve found it incredible how many talented developers are friendly and willing to help others. One of the developers I’ve had the privilege of meeting is Bobby Bobak (@ bobek_balinek). At one meetup, we were discussing ‘unplugging’ together, and decided to set up something quick, easy and inclusive in the community.
We came up with digiHike: an organised hiking group for people who speak geek. I remember having a really productive evening with Bobby. I was sat in my front room, communicating with Bobby over Slack. Within 30 minutes, we had a logo, and Twitter, MailChimp, Tumblr, Attending and Gmail accounts all sorted and ready to go.
Our first digiHike was Kinder Scout, one of my favourite walks in the UK. Despite having done this walk before I still managed to lead us into a field of sheep and across a river. Whoops!
Two things struck me from digiHike. Firstly, little of the conversation was tech-related. The conversations I’ve had on digiHikes have been extremely varied – you never know when a talk about something completely random may in fact help you solve a problem.
Secondly, although the weather was wet and windy, everyone remained in high spirits. Hiking up a mountain generally means no reception, so constantly checking social media notifications and email simply isn’t an option.
When I’ve been working for too long and feel under pressure, my brain feels knotted. Getting away from a computer, into the fresh air, along with great company and physical activity help my brain become unknotted.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you weren’t on a computer, or another device? Furthermore, when was the last time you did something that wasn’t tech-related? If you can’t remember, then maybe it’s time to go and do something else for a while. I’m writing this having just come back from the top of Mount Toubkal in Morocco, a trip organised by Andrew Betts.
If you’re around North West England and fancy joining us, you’re more than welcome. For those further afield who are interested in setting up a digiHike, I’d be more than happy to help you get one up and running (or walking). Simon ( s10wen.com) is a frontend developer from Manchester, UK. He’s involved with UpFrontConf, McrFRED and digiHike