Social media posts reveal hidden spots


Photo By: Kayla Heidenreich

SNC students hike around Lake Tahoe areas to enjoy local secret spots together.

Kayla Heidenreich, Reporter

The first rule about hot springs is don’t talk about hot springs. Who doesn’t love a nice warm soak in a natural pool that smells like eggs? But egg smell aside, almost everyone can find enjoyment in engulfing themselves

in nature’s hot tub, which leads to overcrowding and loss of peaceful atmosphere. Similar to hot springs, Lake Tahoe is full of hidden treasures, and those who know the secret spots would like to keep them secret. A lot of those secrets are not-so-secret anymore thanks to social media and geotagging.

Geotagging is when someone posts on a social media platform, usually a photograph, with all the geographic information of a place. This usually includes pin- point coordinates like longitude and latitude, but can also have other specific information like the name of the place, altitude and even exact distances. These identifying pieces of information are shared with the public, introducing new people to previously secret spots.

“I think geotagging can be great, but also detrimental,” Ming Poon, Protect Our Winters creative ambassador and professional photographer, said. “It can help bring awareness of why we need to protect wild and pristine areas, but people will also expose areas to the masses and cause more traffic to travel there.”

This is the huge debate: does geotagging effect our world negatively or positively? On one end, this allows our population to experience the wilderness and learn to appreciate it, leading to more advocates for its protection. On the other, it does the exact opposite. People can love a place to death and potentially do more damage than an ecosystem can handle.

In a generation of a technological boom, the impact of geotagging is starting to become a prevalent debate.

With Lake Tahoe’s booming tourist season, the effects of geotagging can be seen around the basin. From the new bike path leading access to local secret beaches to Emerald Bay’s tourist trap, these beautiful secret spots locals treasure and share with friends are feeling the stress of tourism. The hundreds of people that rapidly fill Emerald Bay’s parking lot with their selfie sticks and Facebook posts draw the next wave of hundreds of selfie takers and social media “influencers.”

“While geotagging may seem like the popular trend to boost followings on social media, its long-term impact on the environment can be quite severe,” Sierra Nevada College student Tyler Rayman said. “It’s natural for us to want to share the places we love with the people we love, but geotagging over time creates a wear and tear on the surrounding environment and can lead to us loving a place to death.”

Rayman is taking an environmental ethics class at SNC. This class explores the philosophical moral relationship be- tween humans and the environment. In the class, students examine the human- caused, long-term environmental impacts on our planet and how those effects can be mitigated.

“Because there are numerous reasons for which people access the wilderness and outdoors, personal ethics come into question with who should be allowed back there, for what reasons, and with that what regulations,” Rayman said.

While geotagging has a lot of negative impacts, the other side of the debate is worth considering. In a society caught up in technology, money and the drama of our everyday life, geotagging allows people to reconnect with special locations and helps them get outdoors.

“There’s more people than ever getting out into the back country which shows that society is evolving, and we are valuing things other than just work and money,” Poon said. “We value wilderness, we value that experience, we value those things that we get from the outdoors that we can’t put monetary value on.”

Balancing integrating people into their environment and protecting these beautiful places is a difficult thing to do.

“There’s definitely the negative side with exposing places when it brings a high impact of people especially if it’s not controlled,” Poon said. “What we’re seeing now is places adapting after the fact to handle the bigger crowds when it should be done before it becomes an issue.”

The hard question is: Do you love a place enough to never go back there? Rayman believes in not ruining the excitement of trying to find a place because “the best places are best left secret,” Rayman said.