Every year, the Associated Press comes out with a new set of words and grammar rules that become inducted into AP Style. I’m counting the years until the word “dirtbag” becomes a term to recon with. Or maybe the term is only a trend among free spirited millenials.
As a millennial myself; my Facebook, and Instagram feeds are filled with photos of my climber and ski friends who shape their lives to fit the dirtbag lifestyle. I even follow backcountry skier Caroline Gleich, or climbers like Alex Quitiquit who all seemingly act as mentors for those seeking the ideal dirtbag lifestyle. Although, those two have a lot more to their name than dirtbag, they market their lifestyle is simple. It often involves living out of a van and living off of a very small amount of money to get by while living life to the fullest. Dirtbags are happy climbing everyday or sitting around a campfire without a stress in the world except which route to climb the next day.
So why are millenials so obsessed with the idea of being a dirtbag?
Of course slipping away from societal norms and abandoning employment sound especially entertaining amidst the pressures to pursue an academic career and seek out a well paying job. For those who are climbing obsessed, it’s like anything else, it’s more than a rock you’re trying to get up; it’s the lifestyle that surrounds that rock. In school at the University of Oregon, the climbing scene is where those who are not greek-life obsessed go to find their sanity and their “people” so-to-speak.
These people love to identify as dirtbags. Maybe some of them have a little free spirit in them, but let’s be honest; how many of them have parents currently paying for their education? Are you really embodying the dirtbag lifestyle?
The dirtbag has detached from its roots. Today there are articles written on how to be a modern day dirtbag. Could it get more bluntly ironic? I respect the lifestyle, but must you market yourself as such only when you wear synthetic pants and carry an 18,000 lumen headlamp?
In an article for Climbing Magazine, John Dickey writes about the loss of the real “dirtbaggers” of climbing. To Dickey, it’s a trajedy. To a millennial who is tired of seeing the word abused and thrown around to increase popularity among their outdoorsy friends, I am over it anyways. Go ahead and take the word away. I wouldn’t miss it.