Is social media encouraging dangerous behaviour in the outdoors?
Published Friday, August 17, 2018 7:41PM PDT
Social media appears to be making some of B.C.'s most beautiful places even more popular, but officials are sounding the alarm over the perilous lengths some will go to for the perfect photo.
"Everybody wants to take a selfie, be on Instagram, take pictures," said Cpl. Richard de Jong of the North Vancouver RCMP.
The rise of Instagram and other platforms has led to an increase in adventure seekers as well a spike the number of injuries and other emergency situations occurring in the outdoors.
Last month, social media influencers Ryker Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Megan Scraper were killed in Squamish after slipping over the edge of Shannon Falls. Four others recently fell to their deaths at a waterfall in the Catskill Mountains.
"I think that people don't really understand the dangers," said John Willcox of Squamish Search and Rescue.
Officials in places such as New York State are taking steps to make outdoor spaces safer, including banning alcohol and music at high-traffic vantage points.
They're also barring anyone from being within two metres of the water's edge, an issue officials on the North Shore say they're very familiar with.
"You can back up too far and literally fall to your death," de Jong said. "We've seen in the past, people have taken risks."
That's why fencing and signage have been put up in areas such as Lynn Canyon.
But even previous deaths don't seem to be enough to deter dangerous behaviour.
"We've seen quite a few people trying to access the tops of those pools," said Rich Poissant, owner of the Klahanie Campground, referring to the location where Gamble, Lyakh and Scraper died.
This trend of copycatting has rescuers worried thrill-seekers aren't getting the message when it comes to the danger they're putting themselves and rescue crews in when things go wrong.
"The fear is that those people that are going don't recognize the risk either," Willcox said.
Officials aren't discouraging anyone from heading outdoors, but simply ask that they take their Instagram-worthy shots from a safe distance.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald