Is Social Media Destroying Nature?

The Great Social Media Debate

To post pic’s of your favorite hiking spots or not? That is the question.

Is social media destroying our favorite hiking places, or is it motivating others to get outside and explore our world?

In fact, this is such a tough question to answer that I’m not sure there is a good answer.

Yes, social media allows people to see more places in nature. Which, I feel is a good thing. Everyone deserves to see this beautiful world that we all call home.

But…on the other hand it does bring more people to these places, which causes harm to the land.

For example, this year in California, during the superbloom, (a time when a bunch of wildflowers all open up at the same time), so many people flocked to that area that the hiking trails and wildflowers were trampled on. As the posts kept showing up on people’s feed, more people came, which ultimately created land damage. In fact, they ended up having to close the area off to visitors. (Although, that didn’t stop a helicopter from unlawfully landing there.)

Some people will do anything for a picture to post on social media.

And while we could dive into the psychology reasons, and maybe question why we are endangering our lands and ourselves for pictures…the fact is that due to social media, more people are getting outside.

Which, is a good thing, right?! Or wrong?!

Now, I’m not above social media. I love scrolling through Instagram and seeing everyone’s awesome pictures.

If it wasn’t for Instagram, I wouldn’t have discovered, Devil’s Bridge and Picket Post.

Devil’s Bridge
Picket Post

I kept seeing pictures of these places on Instagram, and it motivated me to want to go there. And yes, I post pictures on Instagram in the hopes to inspire and motivate others as well.

But, I’m also aware of hiking etiquette and my main priority while there, is to see it, not capture it.

Pro’s & Con’s of Social Media

Pros:

  • People enjoying nature
  • People having new experiences.
  • Increased happiness from being outside
  • Form of exercise.
  • Hopefully a new appreciation of the land.
  • Getting to see awesome places that we may have never known existed.

Cons:

  • Crowds showing up at these sights, making it commercialized.
  • Trails are being destroyed.
  • Once remote areas are now being flooded with traffic.
  • Injuries/deaths occurring for the “perfect” picture.
  • People more concerned with pictures than with enjoying the nature.
  • Wildlife being affected negatively with the increase of people.

This again, is a tough debate. Social media can do a lot of good and it can also do a lot of harm as well.

For this reason, I try to be responsible when posting for the @hikephoenix IG account. I don’t like posting overly Photoshopped pictures. While yes, we all “pose” in pictures, I try to show real hikers along the real trails and what it really looks like.

So, while I don’t think social media will ever go away, this debate is likely to continue. And I hope more good comes from it than bad.

What do you guys think? Is social media ruining our hiking trails?

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