Thou Shalt Not Geotag Thy Campsite??

I came across an Instagram post the other day of which the general theme was this: by tagging the geographic location of your remote or special ‘secret’ campsite on social media, that you are doing yourself and the general camping public a disservice by informing the uninformed of it’s existence.  The irony of finding this post on the ‘Explore’ page was not lost on this punslinger.  The poster went on in detail about how the geotagging offender was trying to somehow assert their coolness by showing how in the outdoor know they are.  That part actually makes sense.

Her secluded Joshua Tree campsite, once cut off from the outside world, was being overrun with tourists in search of likes and retweets.  Her go-to spot had become her don’t-go-to spot due to the congestion and new found resi-tents.

At first I just returned to my scrolling of the #TheTentCommandments search results (which are AMAZING by the way ;)).  But then I got to thinking; was this camper’s post right?  Being an avid user of the geotag, was I responsible for ‘blowing up the site’?

To begin with, it always gives me a pretty good chuckle when someone declares social media as the problem via social media, but I digress.  I fully understand the point that something is more special when it is perceived as yours and you are part of a club that knows about a certain thing.  It’s always been that way.  I mean who didn’t like Nirvana better before ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.  But in terms of the outdoors it is even more relevant as the influx of people can have dramatic effects, not just on the availability of suitable camp plots, but also in terms of the effect on the health of the environment.  More people equals more trash.  Far too few live by the ‘Thou Shalt Leave It Better Than You Found It’ commandment.

But I also know how many times I, and people like me, have seen a view on Instagram and been inspired to get out and find that place.  While I very rarely ever find the exact tagged location, I get close enough to get a slightly worse photo that I can share with my slightly less interested followers.  But after all, the journey is the reward, collect moments not things , [inspirational quote goes here].

So what’s the right answer here?  Does social media inspire those to get outside and find these idealized FOMO-graph locales?  Or does it somehow hurt the environment and the core camping culture by alerting fringe campers to our most prized locations?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.  Having never been personally effected by the phenomenon, I say tag away.  The outdoors belongs to everyone and we should do what we can to inspire and get more people out enjoying them.  But maybe I’m part of the problem???  Either way, let me know where you come down on the argu-tent…

4 Replies to “Thou Shalt Not Geotag Thy Campsite??”

  1. High five on the Nirvana reference. Word of mouth is how humans spread their believes. Regardless of it is the yay or the nay. Social media has amplified this, and it is our civic duty to inform people of the pros and cons. Yes, I want to share this awesome spot of where we went camping! No, I don’t want it be overpopulated next time. However, this is why I believe in a permit system for many of our popular parks. Daily limits will allow us to continue to cherish these parks without feeling like we are running them into the crowd. As far as social media is concerned, I want the day hiker and the weekend hiker to know their 7 Leave No Trace Principles, and ensure that we are following these rules of conduct. From there, I’m stoked to see your adventures!

    1. Thanks, Brittany. Being a child of the grunge era, I wore my fair share of flannels. I just read a great article in the New York Times about the record number of people visiting the National Parks, and the possible need for a reservation system just to enter overcrowded parks like Zion. On the one hand, having been to Zion and being frustrated with the congestion I agree that something needs to be done to protect the environment and create a better experience for visitors. On the other hand, I’d be pretty bummed if we were denied at the entrance of a park because we didn’t have a reservation. Or worse, waiting lists started to pile up to a situation where you’ll be lucky to get in next year.
      Obviously there’s no right answer, but leave no trace and The Tent Commandments should a mandate 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I struggle with this question as well. There are camping spots that I specifically like because they are uncrowded and closer to nature. I wouldn’t enjoy them as much if they were overrun by too many others.

    However, I love it when other people tag cool locations that i can later check out for myself. Some of the best places we’ve gone we’re on the recommendations of others.

    So selfish, right?

    I’ve decided that sharing is better. Tag away, and hope that the people who find your spots enjoy and respect them as much as you do. Sharing is better.

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! I agree that I’ve been so inspired to travel (and start camping blogs ;)) by seeing the amazing places that other people are adventuring to! Also, learning different photographic perspectives at familiar spots that have inspired me to see things different and push myself to new places. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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