As an outdoor travel blogger, I am constantly interacting with others on social media to share my content and increase my following.
But occasionally, I take a step back and ask myself, what am I doing this for? What is the real purpose behind each post?
I desire to be an authentic travel writer, recording the experiences that changed me as a person, not just the times I captured the perfect pic.
So I’ve taken the time to consider how all of us can continue to use social media without letting it change our outdoor experience. And it turns out that the impact it has made goes far beyond myself.
Read on to discover how social media can influence you, others and the environment, and how you can be sure to enhance your outdoor experience instead of hindering it.
Social Media and You
Among many outdoor enthusiasts, there is a common debate over social media and its effects on our interaction with nature.
Some are strong advocates of leaving your camera home. They believe that, because no picture can truly capture the beauty of the outdoors, it’s best to put the technology away and focus on the beauty around you with your own two eyes.
Others encourage the use of cameras, saying it can be used to better remember a moment and allow you to share the experience with others.
Whether you agree with either of these statements is up to you. If you are unsure what to think, start by asking yourself a few questions.
On your next outdoor adventure, before you take a picture, ask yourself why you are doing so. What’s your purpose and motivation behind it? Good memories? Popularity? Or simply because you think it’s pretty?
Later, once your trip has ended, take a look at these pictures again. How do they make you feel? Are you nostalgic, longing to return to the beautiful place or exciting moment? Or do you only feel proud of taking such a great shot?
I have to take lots of pictures to keep up with my blog, perfecting each aspect of the photo for my website and feed. But I always make sure that my reasoning goes beyond that.
That I’m not only creating content to share with others and grow my follower count, but I’m making my own memories. Ones that will last a lifetime.
Another potential problem with social media in the outdoors is putting yourself in danger for good content. Countless people have been injured or killed trying to get that perfect photo at an unsafe location.
Getting 1000 likes for hanging off a cliff is not worth risking your life. If you choose to post about your adventures, be sure not to put your life on the line for momentary fame.
Social Media and Others
Believe it or not, how you use social media in the outdoors can also affect other people.
First, there are those that create content in an obnoxious manner. It may look cool to have a waterfall in the background of your TikTok video, but it is quite annoying to those trying to enjoy the serenity of the falling water.
If you’re finding yourself in the way of others while recording videos or taking pictures, try moving to a new location. Be sure to clear the trail or pathway, allowing people to walk by.
And as a general rule, no matter where you are, try not to disturb the peace created by nature. If you’re drawing attention to yourself, you’re doing something wrong.
What you post can also affect the decisions of your peers. Make sure to create content that encourages others to travel responsibly.
This is another reason not to engage in dangerous activities for interesting content. You may have been lucky enough to escape without a scratch. But a friend who sees your post and tries to replicate it may not.
Before hitting the send button, consider if your post will negatively affect others or their outdoor experience. If so, find a new picture or video to send out.
Social Media and The Outdoors
Unfortunately, there are many different ways that social media can negatively impact the environment. Firstly, it can lead to overpopulation.
Your amazing pictures on Instagram of your latest hike may inspire others to visit the same location. But when too many people visit one area, it can result in overuse of the land and destruction of the life there.
Too much traffic at one destination leads to misuse of the environment by leaving trash, marking on trees or stepping through natural areas. Consider posting about the road (or trail) less traveled, discouraging the overpopulation of one area.
Another problem is promoting content that breaks park rules. Ignoring “No Trespassing” signs can hurt the land there, put yourself in danger and encourage others to do the same.
A more common issue is failing to comply with the Leave No Trace policy. These regulations, enforced in every park and trail in the country, are for the preservation of the land.
Following Leave No Trace includes picking up any garbage, walking on durable surfaces, minimizing the impact of campfires and respecting wildlife.
By disregarding these rules and encouraging others to do the same, we could ultimately destroy the beautiful places that we love and ruin these experiences for adventurers to come.
Instead, we should do the opposite. Why don’t we spread awareness through our posts, encouraging the protection of our environment and inspiring others to go out and explore in a safe and responsible manner?
Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person or you’ve never had a green thumb, it only takes one hike to change your perspective and begin to feel more passionately about the environment.
Before my life changing experience with nature, I never cared much for the outdoors. I was a homebody and conversations about saving the planet never interested me much.
But when I walked on those trails and saw how beautiful the Earth can be, I fell in love with nature and saw firsthand how it was being affected by humans.
Social media can be used to positively impact others, to remember an amazing experience or to change the world. Use it wisely.