Surely you’ve heard the thought experiment: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?” Well, allow me to adapt this for the modern age: “If you see a beautiful natural sight and don’t post a photo about it on Instagram, did it ever really happen?”
It goes without saying that our society is obsessed with photo-ops and selfies. In 2018, 95 million photos and videos were posted to Instagram per day. And the motivation to head to some of the nation’s most beautiful wild places in pursuit of a coveted selfie is apparently wreaking havoc on many of these already delicate spaces. In a 2016 opinion piece for the New York Times, writer Dayton Duncan called the phenomenon “loving our national parks to death.”
In the first episode of her series In Our Nature, adventure photographer Erin Sullivan investigates how our obsession with capturing shareable moments is having serious consequences on the outdoors, and even what some parks are doing to curb surges in interest in order to protect them.