It’s probably fair to suggest that if you’re a hiker, camper or an outdoor enthusiast in general that you’re on one of the main social media platforms.
Facebook is a haven for blogs, images and videos, while Instagram and its features almost give you a blow-by-blow insight into someone’s latest adventure.
As someone who not only has a full-time job as a social media manager but also uses social media for distribution and content of this blog, I feel as though I have seen the best and worst of it.
The two topics that continue to arise is the use of social media in the outdoors within the context of exposing locations; “secret” or otherwise.
And the second topic is how social media is giving those of us who aren’t as experienced in the outdoors a misunderstanding of what it takes to complete a particular hike or trek.
I am going to come right out and say this straight off the top: social media isn’t to blame for the exposure, or overexposure, of any outdoor location.
In my opinion, it has merely given us as outdoor enthusiasts another avenue to showcase what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and where it’s happening.
And to suggest that this is purely impacted by the use of social media is to not take responsibility for our own actions.
Years ago before the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were even thought of, hikers still hiked and campers still camped.
Furthermore, they no doubt took plenty of happy snaps with their old Kodak throw-away camera (remember those?).
And if they had a really good time at a favourite location, or stumbled across a seemingly unknown location, they no doubt would have told their like-minded friends upon their return.
So, apart from the introduction of smartphones and social media platforms, it would appear nothing has really changed when it comes to telling people about these places you go to during the weekend.
Now is it safe to say that the rise in participation in the outdoors is due to social media? Perhaps.
Or has it always been there and social media is just exposing it further?
In this case, I would almost certainly argue the latter.
The second topic that appears to be cropping up in my newsfeed lately is how social media is portraying a “fake” sense of reality in the outdoors.
And what I mean is that an image or a video is suggesting that the hike might be easy but in reality, it actually isn’t.
The flow on effect of this is that someone who has less experience sees this image or video, thinks they can complete the hike, goes off unprepared and then finds themselves in trouble or worse.
Is social media to blame for this unfortunate incident? Is it the videographer or photographer? Or is it the person who decided to attempt said hike without doing adequate research in the first place?
I would argue that it is the person who decided to attempt the hike without doing the required research to determine whether it was suitable for them or not.
The key theme in all of this is taking responsibility for your own actions.
Regardless if it’s hiking, eating food, going on holidays or whatever it is we like to do outside of work and family, social media is nothing but a platform that further exposes what we already do and what we have been doing for years.
It cannot be blamed for the rubbish that is continually left at the bottom of a waterfall.
It cannot be blamed for exposing a campsite that was supposedly hidden as I don’t believe any outdoor location is truly hidden.
And it cannot be blamed for giving misinformation about a hike or trek that someone has just posted about it.