Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
More and more people decide to live full-time in a van, often customised, and hit the road heading into the wilderness and the open space. They claim to belong to the virtual community #Vanlife that gathers millions of followers, at home and on the road, called Vanlifers. They navigate from one place to another one discovering new environments, new communities, new cultures, new skills to adapt to their mobile lifestyle. Although they circulate through physical spaces, they also navigate through virtual places by sharing their stories on their social media accounts (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube) and/or following others web influencers to guide them in their lifestyle.
Based on an ongoing mobile virtual ethnography on Vanlifers, this paper explores their social abilities (or lack thereof) to navigate from the statusphere to the physical world, from home to away, between the known and the unknown. It also examines the contradictions of their expressed desire to “change climate” since in assuming the role of social media influencers and commodifying their biographical stories, they seem to be reinforcing their involvement in the very consumer society they rejected when deciding to live on the road.