This past Sunday I saw a neat segment on CBS Sunday Morning about how kids today walk much less than two generations ago. Now this isn't because of technology per se, nor is it a rant about exercise. Consider this: my grandfather easily walked several miles to a fishing hole on a regular basis. My mom walked a couple of miles to school. My kids typically won't leave our eyesight unassisted... So what? It's obviously a more crowded, developed world, and a bit less safe. What matters, however, is what we lose in all this.
You see, as anyone who hikes will tell you, a simple walk in the woods gives you perspective. It allows time for self-reflection, exploration, encourages self-reliance and provides ample opportunity for curiosity. How are we encouraging these traits today?
The segment on CBS wound up rationalizing our kids' hermit-like lifestyles by saying kids today can have hundreds of friends (as opposed to a few close ones), travel virtually around the world in a click and discover all sorts of things online. So that's true, but isn't really the point.
What we're seeing is that people are becoming and thinking more shallow. If you spread yourself thinly across a large area, you aren't equipped to handle complexity or depth. If you never self-reflect, how are you supposed to know yourself-- eHarmony be damned? Without that simple walk in the woods, you lose the tactile, auditory, sensory overload of nature, you lose the exploratory nature of wandering, and you certainly lose the peace and knowledge that comes with ending an adventure.
Is it ironic that microwaves are the primary cooking tool? Nope, not at all. Makes perfect sense for our shallow world. It is true that computers are like bicycles for our minds, but it is also true that just because you can go farther and faster than ever before does NOT mean you'll know how or why you got there.
My point is this: if the world's problems are becoming more complex (due to more people, less resources and our continuing need to find yet more interconnected issues to deal with), and our ability to process complexity is diminishing, aren't we on a collision course with disaster?
And given that, is there anything we can do with our mighty technology to deal with the situation? I can't keep my kids off MySpace forever, after all...
Click to see how screwed we are. The area to the right is when Idiocracy kicks in.
one man's journey into creating gibblybits