June is now officially recognized as National Great Outdoors Month.
While we recognize this month, we’ll tell ourselves that we need to leave our tablets and smartphones back at home or the cabin as we hike the Appalachian Trail (or part of it), fish in the stream in our backyard, bike our way through the vast plains, or launch our boat from the nearby marina.
It’s summer time now and we all want to be outside. We may not all, however, want to leave our beloved gadgets and apps behind. We have photos and stories to share with the world! And we know we can’t leave emails from our boss or potential clients neglected for too long.
We think about what photos and moments we want to capture and share on social media as we hike along…
It’s no secret that technology pervades every aspect of our lives; how we work, where we work, how we learn, how we communicate. The list goes on and on…
And with the constant innovation of new phone apps, gizmos and gadgets, we are all being told now that we should disconnect more frequently from our devices and social media accounts.
Being glued to our screens constantly shrinks our brains, makes us lazy thinkers, makes us suffer from “text claw” and could wreck our spines, makes us emotionally unstable because we are getting lonely and sad as we scroll through our Facebook feeds, and makes us more irritable because we aren’t sleeping due to our circadian rhythm being all out of whack… so they* say.
*“they” here is referring to those individuals who conduct medical and psychological studies regarding effects of technology use on us mortals who all need to constantly remember to lead healthier and more balanced lifestyles (whatever that means) … far, far away from blue screens that haunt us at night as we try to sleep but can’t escape… from the addictive power of Netflix.
While all of that might be true… just for a few moments, I’d like to think about how technology could bring us closer to nature.
And while we should definitely experience the outdoors more while the sun is out in full force, I would like to pose two questions for meditation:
1- Should we view technology and nature as opposites? (Man vs Machine)
2- In order to take full advantage of the great outdoors and appreciate it, do we need to leave all of our gizmos, gadgets, devices, and apps behind?
Perhaps we should consider a different perspective, where nature and technology meet; a perspective where technology not only allows us to appreciate the great outdoors more, but can even potentially save a life and make our lives more fulfilling, while we’re surrounded by fresh foliage and chirping herons.
Consider the following before you go explore the great outdoors:
- The American Red Cross mobile apps provide information for:
- Administering first aid (even for Rover, your furry pal who’s hiking with you)
- Local weather patterns
- How to prepare for a natural disaster
- There are apps that allow you to navigate the terrain in front of you before you attempt to tackle it, so you don’t encounter terrain that you aren’t prepared to cover or that has changed due to recent weather (source). And let’s not forget the often taken for granted GPS. You know, Google even has maps for a lot more than city streets (google it).
- And in order to enhance our outdoor experiences and to really immerse ourselves in the environment around us, we can use the bird identifying app , and apps that identify plants.
- And luckily, we have entities that provide us with gizmos and gadgets specifically for the outdoors that won’t easily become damaged. There are even options that spies could use. That is, if spies actually camp. I don’t remember James Bond ever camping…
Even though the above list is short, it exemplifies how technology can potentially bring us even closer to appreciating our experiences in the outdoors (opposed to the trending theme that blue screens are evil and will kill us all).
What do you think? Do you have an app or device that you love to use when in the great outdoors; that allows you to appreciate nature more than you would without it? Or do you believe in the sanctity of disconnecting completely while you listen to birds singing and the nearby brook babble?