As avid hikers and backpackers, we are strong supporters of Leave No Trace principles. However, personal experience and recent articles (check out the links below) have caused us to become increasingly concerned about the negative impacts that the publicity afforded by social media brings to some of our beloved — and vulnerable — natural places. The ability to enjoy nature unspoiled by inconsiderate crowds, trash, and misuse should belong to all lovers of outdoor recreation.
Currently, there are 7 principles laid out by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics that address ethical behavior in the outdoors. We are proposing the addition of an 8th principle to address the impacts that can occur when places that are particularly vulnerable “go viral” as a result of social media sharing.
Examples of a possible 8th principle are:
“Be mindful when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts that rapidly increased use can have on wild places”
“Use discretion when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts of creating a ‘buzz’ about specific destinations”
We have created this page as a conversation starter. A way to let Leave No Trace know that we are keen to see this discussed with greater urgency before more wild places are “loved to death”. We encourage people who recreate in the outdoors to reflect on the potential impacts their social media posts might have on the wild places we all love.
We are not elitists. We are not secret keepers. We simply love natural places and want to see them responsibly enjoyed and responsibly shared.
If this resonates with you, please consider downloading the letter
and sending it to Leave No Trace. It is with no small sense of irony that we ask you to share this page and message with your friends and fellow hikers.
Update: Leave No Trace released social media guidelines, many thanks to LNT for recognizing this issue and taking this step: https://lnt.org/blog/new-social-media-guidance
For an in-depth discussion of the 8th Leave No Trace Principle, check out this episode of the Cascade Hiker Podcast:
“Is geotagging on Instagram ruining natural wonders? Some say yes”
“Leave No Trace: How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers is Affecting the Environment”
“Keeping Wild Places Wild: The Ethics of Social Media”
“Trying to Protect California Redwoods from Too Much Love”
“Instagram Is Loving Nature To Death”
“Instagram Crowds May Be Ruining Nature”
“Are We Loving Colorado’s Wild Places to Death?”
“On Instagram’s Impact on Wilderness, and True Adventure Photographers”
“Protecting Wilderness in the Social Media Age”
“Is Instagram Ruining the Great Outdoors?”
“A Local Gem in Danger”
“Guffey Gorge is Instagram Famous”
“Is Social Media Ruining Lake Tahoe’s Wilderness?”
“Loved to Death: How Instagram Is Destroying Our Natural Wonders”
“A Tranquil Swimming Hole Is Overwhelmed by Its Own Internet Fame”
“Does Social Media Impact the Trails We Love?”
“Is Social Media Spoiling Colorado’s Hanging Lake?”
“How social media hurts and helps the great outdoors”
“Too much love for the Columbia River Gorge”