Let’s not do it for the gram.

Pictures of fires in the Amazon rainforest are being shared over and over again on social media, and misinformation is going viral too. Decade-old pictures of the Amazon rainforest are being shared on social networks as a false (and I insist on the “false”) representation of the current fires. Some of the most shared pictures of the Amazon forest fire aren’t even from the area at all.

Even our French President, Emmanuel Macron, spread fake news in his August 22 tweet stating “our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

Too bad, the attached picture of the Amazon rainforest was taken in 2003, the photographer was well-known and never credited. And the famous percentage and “lung of the planet” metaphore may be striking and poetic but too bad again, the Amazon rainforest does not produce 20% of the world’s oxygen. It only represents 10% of the forests around the world and according to the French CNRS’ Amazon Program, the Amazon rainforest produces a very tiny percentage of the planet’s oxygen – very far from the famous 20%.

Dont’ get me wrong: sharing pictures and raise people’s awareness may help to put pressure on politicians and solve a burning issue. But constantly using out-of-date pictures, famous percentages or poetic images because they are keywords or mantras just for the gram doesn’t help us understand the issue. Not doing the latter will not necessarily stop the fire from spreading, but it may at least prevent the spreading of inaccurate and thus misleading news.

Let’s not do it for the gram.

In addition, some people with no obvious link to the matter want us to like, comment and tag their Amazon rainforest pictures. According to the captions, a donation to a foundation will be done, based on the number of likes and comments. If such people want to make a donation, well they are welcome to do so, with no engagement from third parties and no publicity. Even if it’s not the core reason, such initiatives scream “wrong use of a tragedy to get more exposure on IG”.

Let’s not do it for the gram.

Since I’m discussing Mother Nature and the gram on Instagram – and in the wake of recent scandals in the UK or in California – let’s not forget that some influencers are ruining nature to capture so-called perfect pictures for the gram, by trampling on wild flowers or even uprooting them.

Mother Nature needs respect, so here are a few ideas: (i) take the most used trail to let other impacted trails replenish, (ii) don’t pick wild flowers, don’t feed wild animals, and generally speaking follow the rules, and above all, (iii) don’t geotag your pictures. A precise geotagging of your pictures may have a negative impact on natural spots, by attracting way too many people. And Mother Nature doesn’t need us to help people addicted to the gram to find it.

Again, let’s not do it for the gram.

September 6, 2019