We’ve all seen them; the pictures on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter of someone we know, posed in front of an impressive natural landmark, spectacular mountain vista, etc. and thought, “ I know them; they definitely just got out of the car and posed in front of that and got back in.” Social media is full of images of “posing posers.” I don’t use the term in a mean-spirited way, it’s just that camera phones and locating capabilities have made selfies in nature commonplace and it’s much easier for people to appear engaged without actually experiencing our natural world.
For those of us who really do enjoy engaging with nature in a more authentic way, it’s easy to be confused when we see people using our favorite places, our natural sanctuaries, as photo-ops and false bragging rights. Clearly they think it’s worth a picture but why do they not engage fully?
Standing there in the Root and thinking about social media and nature, I realized I can see the connection and benefit of combining the two.
Since the success of my last blog post about the Whitewater fish kill, I’ve come to really appreciate the role social media can play in encouraging awareness about our natural resources and special places. In a few short weeks, my blog surpassed 80,000 views and was shared extensively on Facebook and Twitter. I can’t imagine that kind of response without the power of social networking! Since that article was posted, I’ve been contacted by many people wanting me to use my blogs to talk about other local river issues—I even coined the term “river envy” to explain the folks who have approached me with similar stories about the Root, Cannon, and Zumbro rivers. Everyone seems to now understand the reach that is possible, thanks to social media. I also can’t thank people enough for caring about something so important to me and to the region in which I work.
Am I still a little annoyed by the posers? Sure. I mean, I really value the solitude and respected space that I find in nature and with others who share my love of it. But, I also think that every time someone posts a picture of themselves or friends enjoying one of our parks or other beautiful Minnesota natural places, it helps to remind those who might not be engaged that these places matter. At the very least, they’re photo-worthy, and that’s a start for those of us working to protect and preserve them. Just try not to scare my fish away while you’re doing it, okay? <wink>