Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Oh No! Not a Wilderness Disconnect!

November 28, 2012

With all this attention to technology and the newest whatever that connects the most impulses, are we allowing ourselves to be blinded from our place in the wilderness of the planet?

 I notice that I now carry my cell phone just about everywhere, even when hiking in the Presidentials. For many years, part of the hiking experience was leaving all that behind to experience the woods, whether backpacking or day hiking. Now, even though there may not be reception where I am going, it seems irresponsible to not be prepared just in case help is needed, even though I leave it off to save the batteries unless needed. I have mixed feelings about this new felt responsibility.

 When my kids were little, I loved to walk in the woods with them because they paused to explore each little waterfall, salamander, bird, chattering red squirrel, glistening cobweb, creaking tree as it strained in the wind, all forms of precipitation; they were totally present.

 Is this a new disconnection that makes people fear the wilderness, look at it as something to tame? If so, they might even feel more comfortable with fewer trees and more wires to escape from whatever the real world means to them. Have people been so massaged by technology that connecting with the natural world is a challenge? Or is connection now defined as something one does with a hand held appendage?

 Recently, NPR’s Krista Tippett interviewed, Prof. Sherry Turkle, who directs the MIT Initiative on Technology and the Self. Prof. Turkle recommended that we begin to edit what we do, take time to think about whether the message we are about to send is absolutely necessary, and stop filling up people’s email, tweeting, facebooking or texting everything.

 While cell phones are a boon to communication in countless ways, must their ring or vibration interrupt dinner or thinking or conversation automatically? On a recent hike, I’d forgotten to turn off my phone and habitually opened it up when it dinged, cutting off an opportunity to get to know a fellow hiker who had the sense to move on to someone who was present in the here and now and not off checking messages!

 Time to think about who’s in charge of our priorities, enjoy and use our technology but not be used by it. Clear choices could enlighten this holiday season.