About three weeks ago I moved to Zion National Park. As I was sitting in my office researching the park, so I would be able to answer any visitor questions, I saw something astounding. The visitation in Zion has increased from 2 million to 4.3 million in less than five years. I asked my supervisor why he thought the visitation had increased so much and he answered “social media.” I found this very interesting, about a year ago I wrote a blog entitled “How Social Media is Destroying our National Parks”, on this site and while I still stand by the arguments I made in the blog, today I thought that I would offer a different, alternative viewpoint on how social media is helping save our national parks. This issue is not, and has never been black and white.
I, like many others, am extremely active on social media. I check it first thing when I wake up and right before I fall asleep. I follow many people whose work I find inspiring and I constantly check hashtags in an effort to discover new people, new locations, and new perspectives. However, lately I have begun noticing a trend that extremely distressing to me as a conservationist and park ranger: People hurting the protected (and to me, the absolutely most sacred) land of our national parks, in order to get the shot. I don’t want to point fingers, name names, or even be a spoil-sport, but somebody has got to say something, and it might as well be me. But before we go farther, I want to make one thing clear. I do not in any way, shape or form, believe that social media is the root of the problem that is apathy, or that it is a new problem. People have been disrespecting parks for years. But I do strongly believe that the influences social media has is now a huge issue and is quietly destroying the parks faster than ever before.