Real vs. Virtual Nature. A Blog Action Day post
Today is Blog Action Day and the 2007 topic is the environment. As my tiny contribution to this effort, I’m going to point out an opportunity and a danger to consider if you have kids, are involved in building the Web, or are partaking of any of the virtual offerings that already exist.
The photo at the right is atop Carlton Peak on the North Shore of Lake Superior (PDF). My 13 year old son and I hiked to the top and it overlooks a great expanse of forest and to the left is the massive lake. The rock was warmed by the Sun and you could lay down on it and feel the warmth as the cool breeze off the lake chilled our sweaty bodies. This was a great experience since my son lives in his head (he’s a bright kid, an incredible gamer, and has read hundreds of books already) and is fairly out of touch with nature and the elements.
In the photo at the right, you’ll see a Second Life avatar atop a hill overlooking a faux ocean. When I think about all the people I know that are absorbed in SL, World of Warcraft and are investing themselves in hours of online interactions, they’re living in their heads. I live in my head often but have grown up spending a lot of time outdoors and it feeds my soul and I understand its vital importance to our psyche and well being.
Opportunities abound but one key imperative is to ensure our kids are in touch with the earth. As I’ve grown up aware and involved in wilderness — and even saddened by the paving over of previously pristine areas near Minneapolis/ St. Paul — I’m aware that it’s harder and harder to get kids to experience wilderness and deeply understand how important it is to our well being as a people and our role as stewards of the earth. Without that intuitive understanding of the cycles of nature and the impact humans make and are making, why will future generations care, or even be aware, of negative impacts we’re making on the environment and how to solve problems?
The danger lies in increasing resolution and reality being built in to virtual worlds. They’re becoming more and more compelling as the days pass and I’m convinced that increasing numbers of people will not only continue to migrate to urban areas devoid of wilderness, they’ll stay indoors and continue to withdraw into their heads as virtual connections and fluid communications become more attractive and rich. It’s something I guard against for myself since it’s too easy to do and I can see the intrinsic value of virtual anything. My bride and I also put a foot in my son’s butt to get him outside and I take every opportunity I can to introduce him to the wonders, the beauty and the spiritual lift one gets when in nature.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.