Tourist Thursday 4/11/19 – So-called “Influencers”

At this very moment, Southern California is full of poppies, and the poppies are full of influencers. The superbloom—a fun word for a particularly riotous profusion of wildflowers—has brought thousands of tourists flooding into areas across the state, like Lake Elsinore, where access to the Walker Canyon poppy fields was temporarily shut down because of City Hall called an “unbearable” amount of people, many of them stampeding through the fields and even picking the flowers.

People behaving horribly in natural spaces isn’t new, though it’s a problem getting more attention recently. During the government shutdown, Joshua Tree was particularly badly hit by vandalism, including people climbing the delicate trees, vandalizing them, and even cutting them down, damage that experts estimate could take as long as 300 years to repair itself. (Miley Cyrus apparently did not get the memo. She posted two photos of herself this week sitting in a Joshua tree. After the comments trended towards outrage, the comments on the posts have been closed, but the photos themselves remain up.) The damage to Joshua Tree alone was bad enough to generate an Instagram account, Joshua Tree Hates You, which shows a truly soul-crushing amount of damage, which seems to only get worse as the park gets more popular.


In the case of the superbloom, a more fleeting phenomenon, the unruly crowds have garnered a lot of attention and more than one guide to seeing the flowers without ruining the flowers. Yet reports of appalling poppy-centric behavior keep flooding in. Definitely not helping: the sheer number of influencers staging photoshoots among the flowers. The images tend to be pretty uniform: a beautiful, often white person sitting in a poppy field, gazing dreamily into the distance, sometimes holding a carefully placed sponsored product, like a cellphone case or a jaunty can of soup. They tend to make the poppies look very, very inviting, and like it’s cool to sit among them, which it’s absolutely not.

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One person who is doing something about it, prefers to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation. He posts on Instagram as publiclandshateyou. His forcus is on educating instagramers, and if that doesn’t work, contacting their sponsors. Concerned that his Instagram account might be silenced, he started a website/blog Here


I will cover more on this new approach next week. Can we use instagram and other social media to change the course of destruction – sometimes one person at a time, other times, trying to change a whole industry? I submit we can, trying education first, and then perhaps by finding ways to take away the motives behind these social media pushes for fame and money.

Another recent post on this same website:

The Impact of Reposting Without Context

***Originally posted 4/8/19 on @publiclandshateyou***

This picture, originally posted by @everchanginghorizon, has been shared all over social media. Many people have sent it my way. @hike.vibes recently reposted this picture, and many of you commented on the @hike.vibes repost to say that this picture is sending the wrong message. @hike.vibes replied by saying “if you refer to the original post, this shot was actually taken on the trail. No flowers were harmed”. This is why I will continue to reiterate the following message. In pictures like this, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the trail or not. It doesn’t matter if you used good camera work or Photoshop to make it look like you’re in the middle of the flowers. It doesn’t matter what your caption says. You know why? Because these pictures can, and likely will, be reposted and taken out of context. The repost by @hike.vibes is a prime example of that.

@hike.vibes reposted the picture without the context provided by @everchanginghorizon in the original post. Now 100,000 people will see this picture without the original context, and it sure appears that the model in the picture had to go off trail to get the shot. When people try to replicate this shot, will they actually stay on the trail, or will they take the easy way out and bulldoze through the flowers to the most photogenic spot? How many people will follow the new “path” that was just blazed?

Individuals, influencers, and companies that have platforms to broadcast to huge numbers of people have a responsibility to think about the impact their content will have. They need to be thinking “With this post, am I going to be sending thousands of new people to an ecologically sensitive area? Will all those people treat this place with respect? Am I treating this place with respect?”. Many accounts clearly are not considering these important factors. Their primary concern always seems to be, “How can I take the best shot, from the most unique angle, that will position myself or my product in the most attractive way possible”. Your digital footprints can turn into physical footprints. The before & after pictures of the Walker Canyon poppies a depressing illustration of that phenomenon.



8 thoughts on “Tourist Thursday 4/11/19 – So-called “Influencers”

  1. I wouldn’t dwell on it too much, thebaronoflido.

    It’s not worth missing the important message.

  2. I live near a small town here in Southern Oregon and frequent a historic (for gold mining) woodlands reserve that occupies a hill-and-canyon area that lies adjacent to the touristy downtown, all of which makes the woods attractive to folks from outside the area. The woodland is made up of scrub oak, pine, arbutus and manzanita but also contains a large amount of poison oak understory scattered about among the trees. A myriad of well-marked and well-maintained trails wind round and about through the area, with points of interest noted by signage. Other signage is posted requesting that users remain on the trails.

    While walking through the area one sunny spring afternoon a year or so ago I noticed that leaves were beginning to show on some of the trees and other plants and also noticed a family group off the trail hanging about in a large thicket of waist-high poison oak, which had begun to leaf out. Presumably they were about to enjoy a picnic. I called out to them and noted that they were off the trail and also pointed out that there were picnic tables in a clearing nearby. Their spokesman replied that they’d picnic wherever they wanted to and told me to f-off and mind my own business. I said something to the effect that they could certainly suit themselves and then said, ‘…by the way, you’ve set up in a thicket of poison oak – good luck!!’ and went on my way. A ways down the trail, I looked back and saw them scurrying back toward their car.

    Sometimes Nature protects herself against arrogant idiots.

  3. Maybe BS local agriculturists should plan a drive to transplant poison oak to various gardens around Bixby Bridge.
    It should thrive in that fog & sunshine environment.

  4. On second thought, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my message- it would be strictly for erosion control.
    And, an added bonus, is that it is very pretty for picking in the Fall when the leaves change color.

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