As some of you know, I already suggested unplugging yourself from technology (read that here) and yes, I am fully aware of the irony of me telling you these things while I’m online writing this blog. 8)
I do think, though, that it’s important to get away from all the crap that’s online these day. Sock puppets, trolls, freaks, assorted conspiracies, rampant unhealthy consumerism…it’s not good for us as individuals or societies. Currently, there’s a troll-fest going on over on one of the Facebook pages I “liked” and I can’t help but wonder whether the asshats who are trolling would say the things to people in real life that they’re posting online.
In some ways, I think not, but even saying these things online tells me something about the kinds of people they are. And these are some vile, hateful things that these trolls/sock puppets are saying. If they are, in fact, the types of people who would say those things to someone’s face as well as online, then clearly they are not the kinds of people we need in our lives. Healthy, happy people don’t feel the need to say the kinds of things these people are saying, whether online or in real life. And if we are to maintain a healthy, happy outlook, then we need to remind ourselves that words do have power, and everything we say is a reflection of who we are as people, whether in real life or online.
Which brings me to author Richard Louv. Read on to find out why I recommend you read this guy.
In 2005, Louv introduced us to the concept of childhood “nature-deficit disorder.” It’s not a medical diagnosis. Rather, it’s a way to describe the
growing gap between children and nature. by its broadest interpretation, nature-deficit disorder is an atrophied awareness, a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us.
source: Outside Magazine article by Louv, June 2011
So how do we fix this? Louv’s argument is fairly simple: GET OUTSIDE.
…in recent years an emerging body of research has begun to describe the restorative power of time spent in the natural world. Even in small doses, we are learning, exposure to nature can measurably improve our psychological and physical health… .new data suggest that exposure to the living world can even enhance intelligence. At least two factors are involved: first, our senses and sensibilities can be improved by spending time in nature; second, the natural environment seems to stimulate our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be more creative.
source: Outside Mag article
He further notes that
Even if we’re lucky enough to have bonded with nature when we were young, maintaining that bond is no easy thing. Information has infiltrated our every waking minute. Unctuous personalities squawk at us from flat-panel TVs on gas pumps. Billboard companies replace pasted paper with flashing digital displays. Screens pop up in airports, coffeehouses, banks, grocer-store checkout lines, even restrooms… .There’s no denying the benefits of the Internet. But electronic immersion without a force to balance it creates a hole in the boat, draining our ability to pay attention, think clearly, be productive and creative.
source: That Outside Mag article. Go read it. For reals.
We’ve lost sight of ourselves as a culture. We define ourselves now by being online, rather than by who we are outside of technology. Louv isn’t suggesting we completely unplug. He’s noticing a lack of balance, here, and suggesting that we take a good, hard look at our habits and evaluate what we’re using the Internet for, and to refine and re-tool what we do with it and how much we allow it to permeate our lives.
I, personally, am a firm believer in getting outside. I’m a Westerner to the core, and I don’t feel well physically, emotionally, or spiritually if I don’t have access to hiking, mountain biking, or even open space where there is no development, no strip malls, no sign of consumerism. I grew up in an age when my parents told me to “go out and play” and I’m grateful every day that I didn’t have the Internet as as child or any kind of video games, because I think that kind of childhood allowed me to develop a balance in adulthood with how I use the Internet. I still get outside every day, and when I do, I invariably feel both relaxed and rejuvenated.
So do yourself some favors. If you have kids, get them outside ASAP and as often as possible. Send them on Outward Bound trips. If you can’t afford that, camp in your back yard during the summer. Go bug-hunting with your kids in a local park. Take them to the library and check out books on wildlife and geology. Rent documentaries about those subjects for your kids. Be a chaperone on a field trip to take kids to the zoo or to a nature preserve or museum. Check YMCA summer programs. Just get your kids unplugged and playing outside as soon as you can.
Take them hiking. Get them used to being outside and learning self-sufficiency and wilderness skills. The sooner a kid can rely on him- or herself to problem-solve without technology, the better. Those skills last a lifetime. Take a camping trip to a national park. You can rent or borrow equipment for car camping.
Start small–one day a week. Then maybe the whole weekend. But start.
Here’s a blogger on unplugging her kids. Maybe start there with ideas.
So do yourself a favor. GET OUT. It just might make you a happier, healthier person. That said, I’m now going to take my dog to a park and hang out for a bit…
Happy reading, happy hiking!