• Public Lands Hate You

Do you Geotag? Yes? Then you need to read this!

***Originally posted to @publiclandshateyou on 5/8/2019***

What’s my problem with geotagging? Oh boy.


Let's use an example of an extremely photogenic alpine lake. Five years ago this lake was relatively unknown, except to locals or those who were trusted with its knowledge in the understanding that they would be good stewards. When the location was shared, so was important information such as the importance of using established campsites, LNT principles, packing out all trash (including TP!), ect. On the weekends maybe 3 or 4 groups would camp around the lake if the weather was perfect.


​Fast forward to today. There are over 50k highly filtered pictures of this lake geotagged on IG. Everyone has seen the photos, especially the ones that some very popular influencers have posted. Everyone wants to go get the same pics, and with geotagging they can find out the exact location without doing any research. They can buy some gear online, find the trail with an app, and get to the lake without knowing a single thing about it. This often results in people unknowingly causing permanent damage. In the case of this lake, parked cars were blocking the road & emergency access. Trash was being left behind. Trees were being cut down for campfires. New campsites were being created too close to the lake, impacting water quality. All of those are reasons that access to our public gets restricted.


It's not that people shouldn't enjoy beautiful natural places. Everyone should! But geotagging & sending people to these locations uninformed is having an enormous negative impact, as I’ve seen at this lake & the world has seen with the recent superbloom. If you want to geotag, that’s your choice, but I implore you to do it with purpose. Share ethically taken photos that SHOW responsible actions. Share important information about how to treat the place with respect. Share what people can do to improve the place. A picture captioned with a John Muir quote doesn’t cut it.


All that aside, ask yourself this - What do gain by geotagging? More likes? Giving followers FOMO? Is the temporary dopamine hit worth the potential permanent impact? I can’t answer that question for you, but for me the answer is an unequivocal NO.

Longer version linked in bio.