The Geotag Debate

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Here’s an interesting convo I’ve been having more and more frequently— the pros and cons of geotagging.

Ever hear some of the debate?

Think of places like Horseshoe Bend, The WanakaTree in New Zealand, or towns like Lake Elsinore during a California Superbloom.

Horseshoe Bend used to get about 2,000 visitors a year in the 90s. Now? More like 1.5 million. The Wanaka Tree is still pretty, but getting a photo without a crowd in it takes some patience. Lake Elsinore’s mayor called this year’s Superbloom a poppy apocalypse.

The seemingly obvious thing to blame is Instagram, and specifically geotags- the data about a places location that often attract and direct more visitors than a place can handle.

So should we get rid of them all together? Maybe not. There’s actually also a pretty strong case to be made for why the backlash to geotags reflects a lot of inequality in the outdoor advocacy world. Others argue that conservation starts with appreciation, and the trendiness of certain spots has helped that spread.

I honestly find both sides fascinating and think there are some nuanced ways to move ahead. I wrote about these for a Plant With Purpose article and it’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve written in some time. Check it out over here!

Philippe Lazaro