Time to unplug

Outdoors (Courtesy Laurie Marino)
Indiana Dunes: Credit Laurie Marino

Okay, so this probably won’t be the most inspired thing I ever post, but I feel like it is as good a time as any to remind everybody on the internet that the magical land of Outside is still exactly where you left it when you were a kid. You know, when roller skates were exciting technology? It misses you and is more than ready to welcome you back with open arms. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors on average. Snow Brains even went on to break it down further, saying, “87% of their life is indoors, then another 6% of their life in automobiles.” (Snowbrains.com). That’s scary. Really scary. Like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds or Stephen King’s The Mist style where going outside is almost guaranteed to lead to your gruesome demise. I am happy to inform you that I just checked the weather, and it is currently 72 degrees and partly cloudy with a 0% chance of death by an abundance of crows or government engineered monsters if you go outside.

Based on that, I have to ask a silly question: Why is every backyard in my neighborhood not full of people enjoying the outside on a Saturday afternoon? While I know there are technicalities such as Saturday work schedules, that doesn’t explain me looking around from my deck and seeing only one other person. It’s possible to jump on the “let’s blame the young people on their technology for all of the Americans not leaving their homes” bandwagon. Now, I’m not saying I don’t think people my age and younger spend way too much time with screens in front of our faces some days, but I am saying that I don’t think young people and their technology are holding the rest of America hostage inside. Using some deductive reasoning,  I have to conclude that 12 to 18-year-olds aren’t the only ones that are becoming slaves to their devices. And I have a problem with that. Several actually.

1) Technology isn’t a bad thing. Of what I can remember of my 20 years on this earth, I’ve never not been able to push buttons on a little magic box and talk to somebody hours away with little effort. I can’t remember a time where a magic screen couldn’t answer most any question I came up with in a fraction of a fraction of a second. I love technology (usually), and I know it isn’t what keeps me from going outside and absorbing some of that 600IU (international units)/day of Vitamin D that WebMD says I need. I can prove it, too. I’m writing this post outside on my deck, basking in the sun that isn’t blocked out by a murder of crows.

2) The young people aren’t the only ones at fault. I hesitate to cite people I know, but there are people I know, some of them of a quite advanced age, who never set their phones down. And it isn’t subtle either (consider for a moment that age is inversely proportional to how far the screen is from your face). So, if I see this obsession with technology happening in all age demographics, I can safely say that people can put their canes down and stop swinging them at the “youths” that won’t power down for an afternoon.

3) People have forgotten how to play. This one is probably the most upsetting to me. People have forgotten how to go outside and make their own fun. For this, I will throw a sideways glace at technology. If something isn’t instantly providing an overstimulating amount of entertainment, it appears obsolete. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Smell flowers, go fishing, run around in your backyard. The possibilities are endless, especially if you are an adult with a childlike sense of wonder like me. It is so important not to grow out of that sense of joy. So, if you have, this is me and Outside telling you you are more than welcome to take it back if you want.

I’m starting to feel preachy, so I’ll wrap this up. Technology is good. Great really. Outdoors is great, too. So, bask in both,check yourself for a healthy balance, and whatever you do, never forget how to play. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to power down and enjoy this beautiful day before the Mist rolls in on me.

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