Social Media Killing National Parks

This is a very touchy subject for many, and I do understand both sides because my views, over time, have changed. The concept here that I’ll try to express is that social media, like Facebook and Pinterest, is actually killing our favorite spots in nature. Don’t get me wrong; Social Media also helps a lot as well. It’s more of a double-edged sword when it comes down to it. It’ll bring out the good and the bad with people.

I at one time would feel offended to think others wouldn’t share cool waterfalls or bluffs with me. My thought process about these individuals was, “Why are you so special?” I never understood the dangers attached to sharing places publicly until later when I made new friends who showed me how to protect nature and explained why we should. Education on the matter opened my eyes to how some people are destroying everything we love.

I recently took a hike to one of my favorite spots along the Buffalo National River. After a short mile hike and a hard climb, I was sad to see someone had chopped down one of my hammock trees and attempted to use it as firewood. I say this because branches were broken off and could be seen half burned in a fire pit. While the pine needles appeared to still be green most of the wood didn’t burn. This is a national river so you are not allowed to cut down trees. More importantly, the big question is why make a horrible decision like this when good firewood was just a short hike away?

So how is someone destroying my favorite location caused by social media? It’s kind of simple and complicated at the same time! First, I love showing pictures of my locations and tell stories just like most everyone else. However, when it comes to giving directions or tagging Geo locations I have stopped sharing them publicly. The main reason is that not everyone is going to have the same respect for these spots as you do. The more these locations are shared, the more people will show up to them. This is positive. Yes, more people will enjoy them. However, the negative is that you offer the opportunity for more people to disrespect them. This has led to more trash in the rivers, to people carving names and painting bluffs.

My approach is now more on a personal level. I no longer share GPS coordinates or drop pins normally in public social media areas. Sharing on a personal level allows for more education on safety and prevention of destroying these landmarks. I am able to explain or even show why it’s important to protect this one location. When you share openly, it prevents you from reaching the minds of the individuals that might not have the same respect as you.

Now the flip side of social media. I’m able to bring awareness to this exact problem of destroying the places we love. Maybe the person who cut the tree down will read this and think about it. They may consider the fact that green wood doesn’t burn and dry limbs found in the woods not far away would work better. Maybe, just maybe someone will think twice before painting a bluff or carving names in trees.

So you can see why social media is destroying our favorite spots but can also be utilized to save them. Reach out to people. Educate them before sending large crowds to these areas. Teach them how and what it means to protect and leave no trace. Please, what are your thoughts? How can we find that middle ground of sharing and protecting on social media?