Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Open Your Window. Look! There's a World Out There!

Calling all vegetables. Stand up (slowly, so you don’t get a head rush). Now, step slowly away from your computer. Walk toward your front door, open it and keep walking. Breathe (slowly, in case your lungs aren't used to that strange cold air).

While you're slowly getting your sea legs, look around. Plants, birds — what the hell are those things? Back in the old days, before everyone was glued to their TVs and computers 24/7, these strange experiences were actually normal.

A study has shown that camping, hiking, fishing and visiting parks have all declined drastically. Hunting has declined more slowly than other outdoor pastimes. This report is from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors are Oliver R. W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic.

The report says: “The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children. Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance."

And: “Declining nature participation has crucial implications for current conservation efforts. We think it probable than any major decline in the value placed on natural areas and experiences will greatly reduce the value people place on biodiversity conservation.”

This decline started during the 1980s and it’s been happening in the U.S. and Japan.

No wonder the environment isn't a high priority. When we hear about forests being mowed down and species going extinct, more and more people will be thinking “so what's your point?”

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Candace said...

Hey, even though I spend hours at the laptop, I am still in touch with the outdoors, thank you very much! It was hailing for a little while here today (Dallas). I heard the noise, opened the door, watched for a sec, then got my cell phone and took a picture of the pea-sized hail carpeting my porch (opening the screen door only slightly to do so, mind you.) I emailed the pic to myself. Then, I went back to the computer to look at the pic, and also to check the weather report. So there. :)

February 5, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Hail -- uhh, yeah, I think I've heard of that. It's one of the settings on my virtual reality program where you can simulate being caught in different types of precipitation. In fact I was just using that program a few minutes ago. I stayed inside today because it's raining.

February 5, 2008 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Don't you remember James Watt? He already told us Jesus is coming back, so who needs trees and streams and fields and forests and flora and fauna? So eat your ketchup and drink your oil.

February 6, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: And don't forget, if you've seen one redwood you've seen them all. And trees cause pollution, so who needs 'em? Please pass the ketchup.

February 6, 2008 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

We were outside a lot on Sunday walking our dog in the park - the place was full of people and dogs everywhere because it was a nice day. I think you make a good point, though - kids aren't outside as they used to be. When I was a kid we'd be out all day during the summer, playing in the yard or in the woods (we lived in a more rural area for awhile). Computers do take away from that time.

February 7, 2008 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mauigirl: I think it's mostly a generational thing (at least according to that article). It's not even a matter of how much time they spend at the TV or computer. Since a computer screen can simulate practically anything, there seems to be a real danger that reality won't matter as long as you can simulate whatever you want at your keyboard.

Maybe I'm just turning into Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man character, saying "in my day..." But for younger people who've been surrounded all their lives with cell phones and laptops and BlackBerries, I can't help wondering if the outside world even matters to them.

Like Candace's comment (which was tongue-in-cheek of course): if it was somebody in their teens or twenties saying that, I'd actually believe them.

February 7, 2008 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

When I first moved to Denver 7 yrs ago, I didn't have a TV for 15months. KNow what I did instead? Got mynews through radio and internet, kept the house and laundry clean, and went out and met people and got lots of exercise. Now, my husband does love a TV and computer like there's no tomorrow, and I certainly enjoy them at times, but there's nothing better than going for a long walk on a Saturday morning and watching the progress on the house being built down the street, looking at squirrels, noticing intersections where traffic is bad and pedestrians have a hard time crossing. It's good for the environment, your daily civic life, and your soul.

February 10, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mile High Pixie: That sounds great. That's pretty much what I do too. I live right downtown in a small town on a harbor. There's beautiful waterfront scenery and a lot of hilly residential streets. It's a pleasure to just be outdoors, taking everything in, people-watching, etc.

Fortunately, when I started spending a lot of time online, it was my TV-watching that took the biggest hit. Otherwise, I'd be just like the people I was making fun of in the post :)

February 10, 2008 at 12:08 PM  

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