Social Media Usage Can Put Hikers at Risk of Danger

As one of the best ways to stay physically fit and active, hiking is a great experience. Going for a nice hike can be a fun way to get into good shape, spend some time with the people you love, and see nature. However, as many of us are so connected to our smartphones, it does not take long before you start checking social media when hiking up hills. Could this be a dangerous decision, though? Some believe so.

Photo: Sébastien Goldberg/Unsplash

A recent study carried out found that social media and hiking are not as ideal bedfellows as we might have once assumed. Why? Because many hikers feel the need to share their every accomplishment with others.

As increasingly dangerous and treacherous hikes are taken on, others with less training and preparation decide to mimic these hiking influencers. This puts them at natural risk of being hurt, injured, or even killed due to trying to follow or outdo the hiking trips of other big-name hikers online.

Photo: Omer Salom/Unsplash

Is there a correlation between hiking shots and injuries?

Indeed, other hikers have also found themselves being hurt – or killed – trying to take ‘selfie shots’ of themselves hanging over a ledge, or on a precarious piece of land. Indeed, selfie-driven injuries have been the cause of death of over 150 different hikers taking social media-friendly shots. One daring selfie done right encourages other hikers to try and match or outdo that shot, with predictable consequences.

The study, carried out by Dr. Zachary Lu from the University of California, has garnered a lot of interest. By using social media data with national park visitation data, Dr. Lu was able to find that there is a clear trend between traffic, social media postings, and then rescue attempts.

The study is to show one thing: that hiking is a great activity, one to be enjoyed, but it should be done safely. The study aims to ensure that people motivate themselves and others using social media as opposed to using it for ego trips that end up landing people in dangerous and precarious situations when out hiking.