August 31, 2020

When 'Influencers' Go Wrong

Remains of a social-media influencer eaten by wolves (I wish).
I used to hang out a lot with hunting and fishing writers — even published a little myself —and one sure conversation was always "How can you provide information without giving away too much?"

Do you say you caught this perfect trout "in such-and-such a pool on the South Platte River," or just "in the South Platte River below Cheesman Dam," or "in the South Platte," or "in the mountains southwest of Denver"?  Because it was true that outdoor writers' work could send the hordes to places that previously had been lightly pressured.

Now everyone who catches the fish has to put it on Instagram or TikTok or whatever. And that pisses off some people who say that "influencers" are ruining the outdoors.
"There's a picture of me just a few months old and in a backpack, with my parents taking me for a hike through a national forest where I grew up," says Steve [not his real name]. "And as I've grown, my love of the outdoors has grown."
But also growing is Steve's frustration with influencers trampling over his beloved open spaces to get that perfect photograph.
"I drew the conclusion between the rise of this disrespect and the rise of Instagram and social media," he says, speaking to the BBC from a mostly rural area in the western US. "So I decided to start an Instagram account, to fight fire with fire."
So what did "Steve" do? He started an Instagram account called Public Lands Hate You, with posts like this:
You probably know that this account has a bone to pick with influencers who engage in harmful and illegal behavior on your public lands and post it publicly for the world to see. Not only are the initial actions of these influencers undesirable, but by posting their behavior for thousands of people to see, influencers are giving their followers the wrong idea about what is acceptable on your public lands.⁣
Trampling wildflower meadows. Introducing beauty products into hot springs. Crossing closure fences. Off-leash dogs in leash-controlled areas. Approaching wildlife. Ignoring drone laws. All for the perfect shot to promote themselves and their sponsors.⁣⁣
⁣And there is an associated website: Public Lands Hate You, with the slogan "Our public lands are not a prop!" 

It's not that people go to these places, it's that they break laws or disrespect the land in order to get the perfect photo to illustrate their perfect curated life.

Go have a look. Raise a litte ruckus. Those who live by the clicks can die from the clicks.


Federico said...

Whomever invented the moniker 'influencer' should be shot in the back of the head on a public square. Having sorted that, I cannot fail to see how, unless completely regulated, human greed will just fuck things up for everyone (AKA 'the tragedy of the commons'). The desperate souls that try to make a buck (they are mostly bottomfeeders really) by breaking the rules can be dealt with effectively by going after the sponsors: draft a law that makes sponsors regally responsible for any damage the cretins that desperately try to get money, or some freebies at least, from them, and, all of a sudden, corporate responsibility! and no more instagram bullshit. This problem is really not about people, it is about economic forces that make people exploit stuff that is common and should not be exploited. Going after the people is utterly pointless. Going after the enables (fewer, bigger and clearer targets) is famously more effective.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

An added problem, and one we haven't begun to figure out how to deal with, is how to handle the advancement of technology.

This manifests itself here in all sorts of ways. For one, learning about a nifty spot in earlier eras, if not by word of mouth, was going to be by reading a journal of some sort, something that a lot of people won't bother to do and didn't bother to do back then. But now, by simply lazily surfing the net, they can pick up on locations very easily.

And when they do, the technology of transportation makes it cheap and easy to go there. A trip that at one time not all that long ago meant a ride in a bouncy 4x4 that was built just as much for hauling timber as hauling people has been replaced by a super smooth ride on super smooth roads, and then even at that people offload a smaller vehicle from their larger vehicle. I've been in areas I hiked well into on foot and which were roadless only to meet people who come sporting over in their ATV to talk.

And we won't even start to go into what cheap travel has meant for destinations that used to be real efforts to go to.

Woody Meristem said...

It's not just the idiots who break the rules and show disrespect for the resource, it's even more the technology that guides them to special places, plants, or animals. It's also the technology that leads them to believe that no matter how stupid they are or how much trouble they get into someone will come to rescue them. The really dumb ones who go out in winter in sneakers or wander 150 feet off a trail and are then "lost" and use their cell phones to call for rescue used to die -- unfortunately that's changed.