Van Tilburg says all those vacationers are causing damage to the island's delicate ecosystem, on top of "disrespecting the statues by climbing on them, sitting on graves, and trampling preserved spaces." There are signs reminding people to act like adults and stay the heck off the statues, but noses that large are just begging someone to step right up and pick a winner.
And though the Moai may be huge and heavy, the volcanic rock from which they were carved is actually quite porous and easily damaged ... as rock goes, anyway. Now, in addition to being slowly destroyed by wind, rain, and lichen, their demise is being accelerated by a bunch of outsiders climbing all over them and shoving fingers up their snot boxes. Such is the price of progress, and by "progress" we mean "a Facebook profile picture you'll change in two weeks."
The Exotic Animals You See On Social Media Live In Misery
Unfortunately, it's not just places that humankind is literally loving to death. Through the growing "wildlife tourism" industry, we are encouraging -- and bankrolling -- the imprisonment and gross mistreatment of all those animals that make us go "aww" and "ooh" as we procrastinate on the phone every day.
Zoos have been around for a while, but the practice of forcing animals to perform for or interact with tourists, day-in and day-out, is a relatively new phenomenon -- and one that's exceedingly cruel. In tourist-friendly Bali, investigators found that dolphins had their teeth removed or filed down so they couldn't bite. Orangutans were used as photo props, tied to platforms for hours so tourists could take satiate their thirst for selfies. Elephants were trained to give rides and kept in chains, often with metal spikes that cut into their flesh. And perhaps most disturbingly, a study on wildlife tourism revealed that tourists are really, really bad at telling the difference between cutesy animal encounters and gruesome torture happening right in their noses. If it looks good on a photo, can it really be that bad?