The replica of the school bus that Chris McCandless lived in, which was used during the filming of Into The Wild. (Wikimedia Commons)

Careful not to cross the line for just a few ‘likes’

On Friday, the Alaska National Guard air-lifted the famous “Into the Wild” bus and removed it, keeping in mind public safety. The long-abandoned Fairbanks bus was made famous after it was mentioned in the book Into the Wild, with a movie of the same name, based on the journey and life of Chris McCandless, who lived and died in the bus in 1992.

So what exactly is the public safety angle that had the Alaskan National Guards so worried? The popularity of the bus soared after the movie and several people hiked to find the bus. The bus, that was about 25 miles from the Parks Highway however was not easy to get to and several hikers or finders ended up getting lost, having to be rescued or even died during this journey. In fact just last year, another such pilgrim in search of the “magic bus” went hiking and was swept away to her tragic death.

For some, this might’ve been an actual search for the bus that inspired them but for several others, it is simply restricted to the ‘likes’ on social media. This has been a constant theme these days with people trying to emulate risky behavior from movies in order to impress their social media fan following. Reckless behavior ranging from sitting atop building roofs, to trying to get to remote, unauthorized places for photos, people are doing it all with little regard or thought to their lives. A teen in New Zealand died after she was swept away by the dam water in the Waikato River. She was trying to take a selfie. A man, in India, was killed by a train as he was standing on the railway tracks with a friend, posing for a selfie.

People are also flouting rules just for a few likes. In 2017, two men were arrested for climbing 50 to 70 feet on top of the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver. Last year when visiting Jasper National Park, I personally witnessed people disobeying the National Park rules and getting out of their cars to photograph bears and moose, trying to get closer to them.

All of this risky behavior, and for what?

A few ‘likes’ on social media, a tick mark on the so-called bucket-list or some pilgrimage like the one for the abandoned bus in Alaska? Nothing — no likes, no pilgrimage and no bucket-lists — is worth more than our lives. So, now that social distancing is relaxing, why don’t we all start practicing safe social behavior as well?

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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