“The only way to successfully get through life is to know and over-stand the worst things about it” ~Inspiration~Baldwin (1963)~
So, a new life for me is now slowly unfolding and I have no clue what is beyond the corner that lies ahead. All the students in my IDS 400 class have been asked to creatively inter-combine or weave our classroom experience, events, trips and readings into writing blogs that I’m assuming will become a useful tool for us beyond our college years. It appears that I am the oldest out of the group besides our teacher, so physically I must work a bit harder to keep up with the younger students within our group. It’s okay that I’m a bit unprepared because I know that in order to grow I must step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself through change. So far, the main theme that speaks to me is nature, and how it affects everyone and everything around it. It’s been hard for me to focus on anything else besides nature because our classroom is outdoors in nature. Being outdoors, interacting with other students made me realize just how disconnected I had become from nature and other people around me. There are multiple explanations as to why I have lost touch with the natural world, and it can be applied to many other individuals as well. Among all the possible reasons for losing touch with nature and other people, there is one that speaks the loudest. We are currently living in the age of technology where large amounts of information are available at the touch of our fingertips. As a result, many have lost the desire to connect with nature. Something is terribly wrong with this situation. We are neglecting the gifts that nature has given us. What many don’t understand or fail to acknowledge is the fact that our very own continued existence is all due to our interconnected relationship with nature, the earth. It is an ever-changing, constant flowing, inter-mingling, necessary exchange of energy needed to positively maintain our physical, mental, emotional and perhaps even spiritual reality. Without nature, we could not possibly survive; we would cease to exist. So why do we fail to nourish and cultivate a positive and healthy relationship with the source? What is the contributing factor or cause of our deteriorating association with nature? No matter what the situation may be…everything in life comes with a price and that price-tag can sometimes be very steep. Whether it’s related to education, employment, housing, transportation or advanced scientific technology, there is always a sacrifice that has to be made. The question is whether the reward is worth the sacrifice? Technology is everywhere and we use it for almost everything. The more we plug into things, the more disconnected we become with other things that matter most. We need air to breathe, water to drink and plants and animals to provide the food we eat. All these things are provided by nature, the same element we neglect and shy away from. There is a growing awareness that we have lost something important as a consequence of our progression in modern science and technology. Not only has technology caused us to lose touch with nature, it has also altered the way in which we connect with other people. In other words, technology has lowered the quality of human interactions.
People spend more time on their computers and smartphones than they do with their own families and friends. Besides this, technology is destroying jobs because it’s replacing people with machines and software, which all contribute to stagnant income and growth inequality. This ultimately lowers the quality of life for many throughout society. According to the article, “How Technology Is Destroying Jobs,” Bryan Jolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee, continually argue that advancement in computer technology is the primary cause of sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years; contributing to the stagnation of median income as well as the increase of inequality in the United States. There seems to be mounting evidence that shows modern technology has an adverse effect on human connections with the natural world and as a consequence, has negatively influenced our health, relationships and even the way we view and process information concerning the events in our lives. Sources such as the National Geographic and the Guardian, show that when we spend more time outdoors in nature, we improve our memory, creative abilities and develop better problem-solving skills. Connecting with nature also improves our overall health and makes us more likely to care more about protecting the environment we live in. Although, the world seems to have become wiser, it has also become weaker at the same time. While we have seen growth in one area, sadly we are slowly dying in other areas. Is there a way to balance out this situation? If so, where do we begin? What beneficial changes can be made? Will those who profit from our disconnection from nature cooperate in making the necessary changes that will benefit us all in the long run? Or will those who stand to profit the most resist change so they can continue reaping short term cash rewards, to the detriment of our society as a whole? While it is true that we as a society cannot realistically expect for change to occur overnight, however, with small steps in the right direction, bit by bit, we can begin to produce positive change through a movement that focuses on rebuilding healthy relationships with nature and each other. One small suggestion for change can begin with making it mandatory to incorporate nature in our schools. Some educational institutions such as Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina already understand the importance of a healthy relationship with nature. Guilford College has an IDS 400 course that focuses solely on connecting students with nature to inspire creativity with vocation and success. This one class at Guilford College demonstrates that all hope for better humanity is not lost.