Surfing the internet is nothing like actual surfing


This article first appeared in the Herald Sun on Tuesday, April 18

Is there anything less like actual surfing, than surfing the internet?

Messing around on the internet is nothing like paddling hard, then the euphoria of carving along a completely natural wall of water.

If you don’t believe me, compare any competitor at the recent Rip Curl Pro, which happened at the real Bells Beach not the ‘Point Break’ one, to anyone who surfs the internet for a living. It’s like comparing granite to sludge, or a current AFL player, to a retired AFL player.

But if we continue to call scrolling through online nonsense for countless wasted hours ‘surfing’, then what can’t be called surfing?

Saturday afternoon, you go for a surf through the shops.

Saturday night, you’re at home, surfing Tinder for a date.

On Sunday, you surf a whole bowl of nachos, lie down for a surf, then surf the TV.

Surfing is one of the most commonly misrepresented activities on planet earth, and has been used to sell us stuff nearly as often as pretty girls.

Everything from beer, fried chicken, credit cards, and iPhones, to cologne, clothes, soft drinks, and basically anything that has a marketing budget.

All things that, ironically, cannot be used while surfing.

It must be effective, otherwise the advertising devils wouldn’t do it, and it makes me wonder how many people have ever even been surfing.


According to the advertising, surfing is easy to master, and comes with perfect weather, smiles, abdominal muscles, and a beach full of sand that never gets in your food, hair or crotch.

Personally, I came to surfing late, and am among the least coordinated creatures to ever walk on two legs.

It took me several months of weekends in the water to get any good at it.

Hour after hour of getting dumped, churned and near drowned. Shoulders, arms, chest and lungs burning from repeatedly paddling out, catching, standing, and falling.

Not unlike a personal training session, but far cheaper than paying a failed model who’s completed a two month TAFE course to shout at me until I vomited.

All of which made the end result, when I could finally stand up and surf, so very satisfying.


Nearly as good as riding waves, is the waiting for them.

Sitting out where there’s no wifi, screens, or recorded messages, floating in an ocean that’s instant death to almost everything electronic, and watching clouds scroll past as the sun edges across the sky.

All the complete opposite of clicking on something, then instantly seeing, hearing, ordering, and having it.

Or sitting in a comfortable chair and scrolling through articles on fallen movie stars, fallen sports stars, and cucumbers attacking cats.


Then whenever I see a piece of clothing advertised as ‘surf wear’, I want to scream. Surf wear is a wetsuit, not an $80 t-shirt bearing the picture of a surfer, or a hot girl, or a hot surfing girl.

What the internet and advertisers know, however, is that the idea of surfing and all it includes – sunshine, nature, health, and pure joy, are things most of us want.

Hard work and dedication has always been a hard sell though, so that part is ignored, and the rest is packaged up innumerable different ways for customers who keep coming back, because no matter how much they scroll, click, buy and wear, it’s never the dream they were promised.

Since no matter how much you spend, the one thing you’ll never get from anything that’s not surfing, is the genuine feeling of surfing.

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun on Tuesday, April 18

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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