Feb 25, 2019

By Emma Courtney, Instructional Assistant 


Odds are you have at least one social media account. You likely have more than one. In this day and age, it’s pretty standard to have at least some sort of online presence. Like it or not, social media has become an effective tool to compare one person’s life to your own or others’. We’re hardwired to believe that that grass is always greener on the other side, but we want to present our lawn as the best in town – so we’ll populate our social media with photos of awesome activities we’ve done, delicious meals we’ve eaten and accomplishments that we’re proud of.

Recreation can be seen as an enviable activity – whether you’re playing in the mountains or at the pool with friends, you have spare time (and income) to recreate.  Outdoor recreation has seen a huge growth in popularity over recent years, and many are accrediting it to social media. People are seeking out that Insta-worthy post, and will do whatever it takes to snap that photo – even if it means putting their lives at risk (Baker, 2017). This outdoor Instagram sensation could be argued to have both positive and negatives impacts. On one hand – individuals are going outside, reconnecting with their natural environment, exercising, spending time with friends and family. On another hand, with increased trail usage, many parks are seeing an increase in litter, trail braiding, and a host of other negative environmental impacts.

If you’re headed into the outdoors with the sole intent of snapping a new profile pic, I want to present the argument that this intent takes away from the true benefits of spending time outside. If your sole motivation for going outside is to invoke jealousy in your online following, is there any space left to truly ground and connect with the natural environment that you choose to venture into? Be selfish in your recreational pursuits. Go out there for your own intrinsic benefit; don’t prioritize the need to please or impress others. So much more value can be found in disconnecting and unplugging from our everyday lives through venturing outside; and even more so from getting away from the online world of comparison.

Furthermore, by shifting the intent of one’s outdoor adventure, this can also shift how one interacts with their environment. If you’re going outside to immerse yourself in the healing powers of nature, it’s likely you’re going to respect the spaces you enter into far more. Don’t litter, don’t trail braid, don’t risk your life to add to your snapstory . Go disconnect – and in doing so, reconnect and rediscover the value in outdoor recreation.

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