Q&A: @YouDidNotSleepThere on Instagram's Illogical Campsites

Meet the 28-year-old Canadian woman calling out social media's kookiest campers for fun, and earning enemies in the process

Spend even a few seconds clicking through the favorite hashtags of your favorite outdoor photographer (#exploremore #optoutside #lifeofadventure) and you’ll surely begin to notice some… trends. You know, lit up tents, long exposure night skies, beautiful women in pretty places, all that familiar stuff. It’s essentially unavoidable these days.

And while the rest of the world is content to keep on ignoring the elephant in the room—that cliché, unoriginal images shot in the same popular destinations are often rewarded with the most number of likes—one woman in Portland, Oregon and her IG handle @YouDidNotSleepThere is fighting the good fight to call out one corner of the chaos by highlighting the most illogical campsites shared on social media. And it’s hilarious.

Luisa landed in Portland by way of Ontario, British Columbia, and Los Angeles. Though the route she took to starting the IG account is a bit more linear—a simple reaction to an observation. To get the YDNST scoop, we recently caught up with Louisa over the phone, learning about the account's 2015 inception, how it has grown and evolved since, and even how she’s earned a few high profile enemies in the process.

New followers, same bull. #youdidnotsleepthere • photo @travisburkephotography

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It's not about the journey, it's about the camp spot. #youdidnotsleepthere • photo @jamieout

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Was there a single moment that inspired you to start @YouDidNotSleepThere?

I went on a trip in the Grand Canyon with some friends and we had a bunch of tents from Poler and my friend was like, “Let’s set the tent up over here and take a picture.” And I was like, “What? Why are you doing that?” And she was like, “People do that all the time!” And I was completely caught off guard and thought it was just the most ridiculous thing ever, but when we got back home I started noticing how much people really do do that, and I started looking at photos wondering if they were actually legit. And I had I stumbled across the Instagram handles @YouDidNotEatThat and @YouDidNotSkateThat previously—they’re both super funny—so I decided to put together @YouDidNotSleepThere to sort of call people out, because it’s crazy. It’s just crazy.

What’s your background? Do you work in the outdoors industry?

I don’t work in the outdoor industry at all. I guess you could say I’ve been a big snowboarder for a long while, and have always been around people that work in that industry. I do spend a lot of time outside and camp a lot... but I’m not crazy, I’m not into getting an ice axe and summiting a glacier. I’m not about that.

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Top 3 most common cliches you see?

Oh god, OK.

1. The crazy long exposure night shots with the light in the tent. That one drives me crazy. It’s like, “Oh let’s throw a light in our tent and take the same photo everyone else has taken 100 times.” That’s the biggest one.

2. Camping really close to water. That really gets people going too. I never started this with the intention of trying to be a promotor of good camping etiquette but I find that every time I post a photo of someone near water it causes chaos in the comment section, which is hilarious. It’s great to raise awareness about what rules you should be following—Leave No Trace, I’m all for that—but I had no intention to call people out for that type of thing in particular.

3. Hammocks in ridiculous places. Pretty cringe worthy. I just feel like it’s all so cliche now. But people still eat it up, which is insane. The people love it.

It’s almost like the proliferation of such content promotes the creation of more of it…

I mean how many times can you look at the same style of photo to get inspired? I think when people take photos it’s a subconscious reaction—how many 19 year olds are taking photos of a lit up tent at night with the stars? Probably a ton of them, and only because they’ve seen a million photos like that on the internet.

"Chris Burkard asked me to stop posting his photos. He’s got some GOOD ones!"

Are you having to scavenge for content or are enough people really this ridiculous that you can just pick and chose?

I had to scavenge a little bit when I started (I’m actually shocked i still do it—I didn’t anticipate this being a long term thing) but now people just tag me all the time. Even that’s getting a little over saturated because I’m a bit particular… the most ridiculous thing that’s happened is people will DM me like “I’d love if you’d feature me on your account.” And I’m like, OK, NO. Haha.

I don’t know when I reached that point where it turned from looking for photos and trying to get people to pay attention to the account to having to sift through everything that’s coming my way. I don’t know when that happened. But I do know that when people started blocking me I was like, “Ahh this is what I’m talking about!” haha. Shout out to Scott Kranz.

I call this one "The Influencer". #youdidnotsleepthere • photo @jeffjohnson_beyondandback

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Literally down under. #youdidnotsleepthere • photo @joshgriggs_

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Any other Instafamous blockers?

Chris Burkard emailed me and was like, “Hey I just want you to know that most of the pictures I post are for clients and we get all these permits and of course we didn’t break any rules or sleep there if we weren’t allowed to but I do this for my job…” I respected that. But he also asked me to stop posting his photos. And he’s got some GOOD ones! Haha.

It's cool when people DM me and are like, “Yeah I didn’t sleep there but I took this cool pic.” And I'm like, OK, that’s cool. But [Chris Burkard] is not transparent about that in a public facing way though, and I think that’s why people get wound up about LNT policy and Instagram and posting photos like that, because it does in a way promote people to break the rules. But I didn’t start the account to bring light to that, I started the account for a L O L.

And Socality, they definitely blocked me. Socality Barbie was kind of an inspiration, not because I wanted to have a million followers or anything but just to call these people out because it’s so hilarious. It’s the Kinfolk effect. That whole world flabbergasts me. I had no idea what it was before Socality Barbie and I reposted one of the guys who founded the movement and he was not down.

I’ve got some real haters out there. Haha.

Speaking of, you ruffled some feathers when posting about Trump. Was that surprising?

Oh my god that was hilarious. It was not surprising at all. People are ruthless and people are mean, especially on the internet where they can hide behind their avatar. I’m Canadian so US politics is not something I know a lot about, but I’ve spent a lot of time this past year trying to educate myself. But it’s really complicated and I don’t have people from my past that are Republican or that even have different political ideas than me. I grew up in Canada and everyone I’ve met in the States in the last three to five years has been in California or Oregon so I have no one really in my life that has different [political] opinions. I live in super liberal city and I just wanted to understand these people… I was really just curious to hear someone out on Trump and it just seemed like an easy place to start, on the Instagram account. But then it went crazy.

"If you have 10k, 20k, 100k followers, use that as a platform to stand up for SOMETHING you believe in."

I couldn’t believe how angry people got. But I don’t care about them. Sorry, but I don’t. All I wanted was one sane person to explain why Republicans are doing what they’re doing, and only one person messaged me. And they were crazy, obviously. But still, only one person replied? C’mon! It just goes to show that people are all talk on the internet… and shout out to Instagram models because people suck and that’s gotta be tough.

You’ve since made it explicit that a woman is behind the account and added a political disclaimer to the bio. What prompted the change?

In the whole history of the account everyone’s called me a guy the whole time. And I didn’t care. He this, he that, this dude. And then [the Trump post response] happened and the comments exploded—and I’m not offended by it but I wanted to set the record straight. I think it represents peoples’ presumptions in general, and unfortunately the outdoor industry doesn’t help that. I think it’s an issue of both of those things.

I added that [bio] line because I was frustrated that every time I mentioned something political people would comment things like "unfollowed, stick to your niche" or, "I didn't come here for politics." I just think that's insane for two reasons.

1. Everything is political these days. Camping requires nature and nature is directly affected by politics—as we witnessed when Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord. So, if you give a shit about the camping pictures on Instagram you should be giving a shit about protecting the place where the photos are shot. You're quite frankly a hypocrite otherwise.

2. I can't STAND how safe everyone plays it on Instagram. If you have 10k, 20k, 100k followers, use that as a platform to stand up for SOMETHING you believe in. It doesn't have to be political! That stupid word "influencer" exists for a reason. People need to start using that "influence" for more than a paycheck.

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Q&A: @YouDidNotSleepThere on Instagram's Illogical Campsites

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Graham Hiemstra

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