It isn’t surprising to hear that in today’s social media driven society, people may often harm the environment in their attempt to get a great picture. While most of us might get angry when we come across such cases, the anonymous Instagram account Public Lands Hate you has decided to do something about it.
Run anonymously by a 31 year-old man from New England, the account is dedicated to pointing out the ways in which social media, especially Instagram, plays a role in the destruction of delicate natural ecosystems. The account’s main mission is to help educate people on how to behave in nature and for them to ultimately stop destroying the nature around them in their quest for more social media likes.
Aside from the Instagram account, Public Lands Hate You also has a website, where he writes that this all started because he was “tired of seeing his favourite places on public lands trashed by people who didn’t know any better or just didn’t care.” He’s noticed the growing trend and spike of visits to national parks within the last five years, and believes that a lot of it is due to people seeing beautiful pictures and then wanting to visit the places for themselves. “I completely understand that. I go to those same places,” the man said in an interview with Jezebel, however that doesn’t mean the area shouldn’t be treated with respect.
Instagram influencers have recently become the main focus of Public Lands Hate You. To clarify, an “influencer” is a social media user who has established a strong credibility and audience, and are paid by various brands and companies since they can persuade their following. The account’s current target of social media celebrities happened right after the poppy “superbloom” at Walker Canyon in Southern California. Due to thousands of tourists flooding into the area, the poppy fields had to be temporarily shut down because of what the Lake Elsinore City Hall called an “unbearable” amount of people, as many of them were stampeding through the fields in an effort to take a great photo.
Due to the nature of the account, the man behind it has been getting threats and backlash from the people that he’s called out so far. However, despite the negative reactions from influencers, he still pushes on with his mission to educate others.
The person behind Public Lands Hate You explained to Jezebel that he only calls out the accounts that bury their heads in the sand or that push back aggressively when he initially reaches out and tries to educate them. If at first the educational approach doesn’t get through and is met with hostility, Public Lands Hate You gets fiercer too, and will either put the perpetrator on his website’s “wall of shame” or post about them specifically on his Instagram.
Although the account’s goal and intention “isn’t necessarily to shame people,” he explains that, “peer pressure does work. And the internet is a two-way street. People are posting things with the intent of like YouTube picking up their picture and reposting it and then maybe them picking up a bunch of followers. I’m reposting just like YouTube does but instead of spinning it in a positive light, I’m putting a twist on it that says, ‘This is illegal, you shouldn’t be doing this.’”
Even if your pictures were taken a certain way to look as if you went beyond the parks’ boundaries to get a great shot, you aren’t out of the clear. When people respond to Public Lands Hate You by saying that they used Photoshop or a good camera angle, his response is: “I don’t really care about any of that. The picture you have appears to show you going off the trail, and going off the trail causes damage, and posting those pictures sends the message to all of your followers that it’s OK to go off the trail when it’s not.”
In the end, Public Lands Hates You just has one simple message: “Stay on the trail. Don’t pick the flowers. Walk on durable surfaces. Just the bare minimum. That’s really all I’m looking for.”