We are really fortunate, we live in a generation of accessible travel, in an age where tourism is extremely facilitated thanks to the proliferation of low cost airlines routes around the world. A smartphone in our hands, and the internet to help us get anywhere and anything we want. The possibility to photograph unknown places and help make some destinations popular. But what happens when nature goes viral?
in 2018 the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes, explaining that the landscape was threatened by visitors because of the wonderful views shared on Instagram.
Environmentalists are concerned that photographers who geolocate their positions are endangering fragile ecosystems and wild animals. In defense, they ask tourists to stop.
In parts of South Africa, signs are attached to the fences along the safari routes, asking photographers not to share the location of rhinos, which are the target of poachers.
Complaints about travellers taking selfies abound. In Hong Kong, public housing developments have become popular backdrops for photographers, much to the ire of residents. People have been spotted in Yellowstone in the state of Montana US taking photographs with bison. And visitors to the Louvre spend more time photographing themselves in front of the Mona Lisa than looking at it.
Our thoughts go to the Greek islands, taken by storm in recent years, since many airlines have multiplied their low cost routes. They become backgrounds for selfies and engagement photos, or campaigns of influencers and travel bloggers with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.
Those most threatened islands are precisely the most authentic one and out of the mass itineraries, where the local culture is still alive, still not totally converted into bed and breakfast market, tourist bars, or tourism services. Delicate places, already proven by a certain complexity for the supply of primary goods, and which thus begin to structure their life exclusively for the summer, depriving often the communities of essential services during the rest of the year.
More and more often these islands, the most fragile, are the object of influencers and selfie hunters in the continuous search for an exclusive, an unprecedented landscape. Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace, said: “There are many reasons why people want to show where they have been, how to brag about the rights of an unusual place.”
We would like people to have a real connection to nature, places and cultures that inhabit them. We also think it’s better to inspire, than to take people by the hand and lead them with a GPS directly to their destination. The joy of discovery, the interaction with the environment and its people are key elements of the journey.
Enjoy your world, leave no trace, stop geotagging
said Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
An organization that protects outdoor life by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. And by drafting some important Social Media Guidance in 2018 encouraging people not to geolocate their images when they share them on social media.
Leave No Trace wrote:
When posting to social media, consider the following:
Tag thoughtfully – avoid tagging (or geotagging) specific locations. Instead, tag a general location such as a state or region, if any at all. While tagging can seem innocent, it can also lead to significant impacts to particular places.
Be mindful of what your images portray – give some thought to what your images may encourage others to do. Images that demonstrate good Leave No Trace practices and stewardship are always in style.
While tagging may seem innocent, it can also lead to significant impacts in certain places. Pay attention to what your images portray: reflect on what your images might encourage others to do.
In the following video, titled “What happens to nature when it goes viral?”, VOX explores just how much geotagging your images on social media increases the destruction of nature.
- New Social Media Guidance (Ailsa Walsh – Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics)
- Is Geotagging on Instagram Ruining Natural Wonders? (Laura M. Holson – New York Times – nov 29, 2018)
- When not to geotag while traveling (Christina Djossa – National Geographic)
- Clear Evidence To Stop Geotagging Specific Locations Of Your Nature Photographs On Social Media (Tim Behuniak – FStoppers, nov 2018)
- Geotagging your landscape photos is ruining the world around us (Dunja Djudjic – Diyphotography)
This post is also available in: Italiano