What's wrong with the California super bloom?

Another California super bloom. A colorful transformation of our often desertic landscape now adorned with carpets of green, yellow, purple, pink, and white. What you see is nature’s pure surrealism. But are we fortunate, or cursed? A most awaited moment for nature lovers soon became a reality check. As more images of people and pets posing candidly in the middle of the flower fields or laying on top of them started to pop up on Instagram, some mindful users made a note, and the hard conversations began. Ever since, conservationists and public lands advocates have gone to digital battle trying to educate the public on the ethics of outdoor recreation.

Wildflowers of the Colorado Desert, Photography by Roberto Flores Buck

The super bloom has made it evident that ignorance abounds when it comes to behaving around nature, but also that park visitors easily ignore official signage stating laws and regulations just to make their picture-perfect social posts. Makes you wonder how obsessed our culture is with digital sharing and short-term-pleasure (the kind that comes with “likes” and “follows”). The average photo of someone with the wildflowers soon reads a caption about “loving spring” while the subject of the image is literally destroying it. One of the most significant revelations has been the number of influencers and large-reach media accounts that seem to share images indifferent to their real impact on their followers, and in this case, the environment.

It becomes clear that the masses who follow lack the level of awareness or education to be able to see past a pretty image. The harsh landscape of “beautiful” and “cool” photos plays a blind eye on damage and responsibility for the sake of people and ego pleasing. It has been disheartening for many, myself included, to experience these behaviors on and offline throughout these past few weeks. The community has invited perpetrators of damaging and illegal acts to get educated. Some of the tactics used are introducing them to Leave No Trace ethics (LNT provides an excellent standard for minimizing our impact in the outdoors), inviting them to rethink what they’ve shared, and providing links to multiple resources to help them understand the delicate balance the wildflowers hold in the landscape and our relationship to it.

The information is out there, but it’s up to every single wildflower lover to share a bit of it if we are to make a change together. The movement has been encouraging people of all size followings to participate through sharing their wildflower images and experiences with a little reminder to respect nature. Grassroots Instagram accounts, such as @publiclandshateyou, have started to gain traction with their mission to bring awareness to these alarming issues, further educate the community, and to inform of opportunities for action. Likewise, a handful of conscious influencers, like @elisabethontheroad and @coucoujolie, have encouraged their communities to be mindful and follow regulations. Collectively, those who care have achieved the removal of a few perpetrating images, public apologies, and more. So yes, there’s hope. The community has a simple demand — responsibility from everybody who uses social media and interacts with the outdoors.

“Whether you have a million followers or 5,” influencer Coucou Jolie says, “I hope you go see these beautiful flowers and I also hope you encourage others to be respectful of them.” We can work together to make a real change. Let’s keep each other accountable to be our best selves online and offline, and to share mindfulness through the big or small outlets that we each have.

If you visit the wildflowers and have been so kind to share with a mindful note, please leave your Instagram, Twitter, or Blog link in the comments so I can re-share with the community.

Thank you for reading,