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Yes, Digital & Social Media Is Always Changing, Just Like 1800s Cowboy Trails

One reason we dislike Digital/Social Media is that it’s always changing. But things were always that way. Including cowboy trails.

A year ago the hallowed LinkedIn Algorithm was different than it is today. Not long ago, Facebook was a young person’s game (no longer), and even the thought of self-publishing videos to YouTube seemed astronomically expensive.

But the situation is changing all the time. For many people it feels exhausting. They don’t want to learn new tricks. I get it. A lot of the time I don’t want to either.

But it’s really no different than driving longhorns out of Texas in the 1860s-1880s. The situation was changing all the time – even over the course of a single year.


  • Markets up north such as Montana, the Dakotas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Chicago increasingly needed lots of cattle.
  • Texas had the cattle.
  • The people in New Mexico were fed up with Texas steers eating up all their grass.
  • Landowners didn’t want thousands of cattle coming through their land.
  • By 1885, the Kansas legislature had made the entire state off limits to Texas cattle.

The point is, over a short 15-year period, cattlemen and cowboys had to find and blaze numerous new routes across prairies and rivers to get the cattle north, including using railroads. The situation changed continuously. It was never straightforward.

Check out this fantastic map by Gus Walker for True West Magazine (and btw, subscribe, it’s a great publication!). Moving cattle clearly wasn’t a simple task.

Map of 1800s cowboy trails from Texas northward. Courtesy True West Magazine.

And then compare it to this chart by the Pew Research Center (again, follow them, they’re great) showing the trends of internet and social media use over the last decade. Social media use is changing all the time, and it’s trending up. (Especially YouTube viewing.)

Chart courtesy Pew Research Center

So while it seems like a pain to keep up with the changes, I take comfort in knowing that it was always difficult to achieve one’s goals in an ever-changing market. If we can stay a step ahead of the competition, it can make the effort even more worthwhile.

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