Alright, lets get real. Most people on the internet use Facebook or some other form of social media. Heck, I use Facebook! But what I want to talk about today is not how bad wasting your time on the internet is or how bad for the environment electronics can be, but rather, why social media is bad for nature and outdoor recreation.
I have a lot of friends on Facebook, but I don’t use Twitter or Tumblr… however, I do enjoy using Instagram. One day, while scrolling through climbing pictures a friend had posted to Instagram, something hit me. Looking at the pictures made me angry and upset at him. Now let me be frank: I love my friends and I try to treat them with kindness, but it is a very strange day when I start to hate someone. “What’s going on?!” I asked myself. Well, I did my research, and these are the three reason Facebook and social media wreck the outdoors.
First, using Facebook or other social media to show off your “amazing life” is only hurting you. Narcissistic behaviors have been linked with social media since the beginning of the internet. To quote Jean Twenge, “Narcissism clearly leads to more social media use, social media use leads to positive self-views, and people who need a self-esteem boost turn to social media.” Unfortunately, this cycle of narcissism not only affects your self esteem, it affects everyone who sees your posts. After viewing a post and accepting that life will never be that great, a person’s self esteem can take a big hit. I know that personally, when I see pictures of friends climbing or backpacking, it’s really hard for me not to compare myself to them.
Second, posting countless pictures to social media can destroy the purity and simplicity of the moment. I know we’ve all been there; the mountain top with an amazing view, finally completing a long backpacking trip, finding some wildflowers on the trail. All of these are special moments that are to be treasured, not whored out to the internet. And now, with a camera on every electronic device we carry, it’s almost impossible to escape this trap. It seems like every time I open my social media I am bombarded with pictures from moments that should have never left the trail. With all these pictures of incredible moments, what’s the point of going out my front door anyways?
Third, posting statuses and pictures about your amazing adventure can actually make your online friends hate you. In a recent study, researchers found that the more people post, the more dislike a viewer will have for that person. So, posting all about your camping trip and sharing hundreds of pictures may actually make people who see those posts dislike you! I am all too familiar with this, and it has hurt my community of climbing friends in the past. The general progression usually goes like this: I look at someone’s amazing adventure, I end up begrudging them of their trip, envy and resent sneak up, and it becomes difficult not to have hard feelings towards that person or their trip.
Wow. Take a breath, that’s some heavy stuff.
With this post, I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings or call for a ban of social media. I just wish people would use a little more discretion, think about their motives, and learn about the deep implications their actions can have. On the flip side, social media can help spur on environmental movements or promote outdoor communities.
So think next time you’re about to post! And maybe on the next trip you take, leave the camera at home! Social media is a tool. And just like any other tool, it can be used to create something beautiful or destroy something that was once precious.
Your Turn: What’s your opinion of the relationship between social media and the outdoors?