"The social media thing is sad… it's toxic."
Portugal’s Supertubos and its wildly tricky tide affected waves has long been the graveyard of Kelly Slater’s dreams, a loss to wildcard Fred Morais in 2013 scuttled that year’s title run; same thing the following year when Slater destroyed a board after losing to Aritz Aranburu.
A couple of nights back, his dream of swinging out of the spotlight with an Olympic gold at Teahupoo is close to being shuttered after losing to the Brazilian Joao Chianca.
In response to the loss, Slater said, in a roundabout sorta way, thanks for the laughs but I ain’t never coming back to this hellhole again.
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Now, in a just-released podcast with Amy Morin of the Verywell Mind Podcast, fifty-one-year-old Slater has spoken of his mental health, the therapy he does with his Chinese girlfriend Kalani, issues he had with his parents, retirement and so on, but also the heavy pushback he gets for his robust social presence.
“Social media can be toxic. I’ve had people wish me death on social media many times for a comment or an opinion, literally I’ll come find you. Almost like scary stuff. And I think those people probably don’t even remember they did that, it’s weird because there’s this separation. You’re not in front of the person. Fifty years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, they could just punch you in the face. Now there’s a paper trail and it turns into this whole thing. It’s like a legal battle, but at the same time people can say whatever they want with no accountability behind that. And so the face-to-face interactions with people are really what should build you up and make you who you are. And I think the social media thing, it’s sad because you see a lot of kids struggling with it. There’s a lot of bullying that goes on. I think there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t see unless you’re really right in these little pockets of people. I hear these stories of kids being bullied in school by other people and then committing suicide and it’s just terrible just because people want to be mean, it’s life’s a struggle for everybody in some capacity. And social media can make it harder.”
The Champ also talks about winning Pipe last year, and which opens season two of Apple TV +’s docuseries Make or Break.
“There’s this one moment in the contest where I should have lost and just in the last moment I end up winning. And that was about, it was just in the third or fourth round of the contest. And that was really the thing that springboarded me into just getting in the flow for this event and ultimately winning it. But I was going through a lot of stuff in my own mind that gets in the way. When you don’t win for a long time. I spent a lot of years winning on average, every fourth event that I surfed for 30 years basically. And then I didn’t win a contest for five years, a couple years I had off for injury and stuff. But still it starts to creep in your mind, I don’t know if I can do this. And just like the opposite when you’re young and you start to win, when you start to get on tour and you start winning some events, you see some of the young guys now, Jack Robinson, Gabe Medina, John John, Felipe Toledo, Griffin Colopinto, all these kids coming up. Once they start winning a few heats and beating the guys that they thought maybe they couldn’t beat at some point when they were younger, the confidence just gets there. You don’t question it. And so there’s a lifeline for all things. And so I was getting to this point where I didn’t know whether I could win again. And I knew I could on paper, I knew I could, but inside you go through your own struggles throughout an event and you have doubts. And even when it was seconds from happening, I was like, I can’t believe this is real. And so the feeling was really, for me, it was really pure and magical like when I was a kid again. And as far as the other episodes throughout the year, I haven’t watched them all, so I couldn’t tell you. But Filipe Toledo had an amazing year last year. He was definitely the standout surfer of the year and he won his first world title and I’m sure they’re going in depth to cover that. And each individual event, somebody’s going through something good and bad. And it’s just interesting to see all those stories that even if you’re not a fan of this sport, even if you don’t surf, there’s a lot of people who’ve been sucked into Formula One through what Box To Box has done and now they’re getting into the golf as well. And I think it’s the individual stories that are compelling for people to learn about. And I think through each of those, if they’re told right, you learn about yourself.”