One hundred years later, Tough Mudder is built on the same philosophy except for two very crucial modifications: replace every mention of "Everest" or "mountain" with "synthesized torture" and every mention of "joy" with "a Facebook profile picture that makes me look cool." Aside from the obvious difference between splashing around in mud and climbing a deadly peak before Gore-Tex exists, the more subtle difference of intent is more important here. Taking on a physical challenge for the sake of conspicuous, documented achievement as opposed to simple joy actually goes a long way to explaining why obstacle races have mushroomed into a cultural phenomenon now instead of any other point in history, and also why I blindly signed up with thousands of other people for three hours of misery.
toughmudder.com I couldn't find any photos, so I just used this picture from WWI.
Tough Mudder as a company is worth $70 million after only two years of existence -- not just because a few people enjoy overcoming grueling challenges, but because a lot of people enjoy overcoming those challenges, out loud and for everyone else to see. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and every other social media network has given everyone the opportunity to write their own biographies one post at a time, and as a result we favor the accomplishments we can share. Showing off doesn't have the same shame attached to it that it might have 10 or 20 years ago, because the whole point of posting on social media is to essentially say, "Look what I'm doing!" In fact, the running mantra on the Internet is, "Pics or it didn't happen" and that's become a thesis for our lives.