Just ran across this study showing Americans are the world’s leading couch potatoes and outdoors deniers. Disgusting. So here’s a piece I wrote about this travesty of nature.
“People in the US and Canada spend more time indoors than 12 other countries, according to a new study.
About 25 percent of 2,239 Americans surveyed spend 21 – 24 hours a day inside, 34 percent spend 0 – 14 hours inside and the remaining 41 percent frolic indoors 15 – 20 hours a day, the data gathered by global architecture company Velux shows.”
By Bob Quarteroni
When the Eagles sang, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device” on Hotel California, they couldn’t possibly have known how prescient they were.
All they were missing was an “S,” since electronic devices have become so spookily ubiquitous, so ingrained into the fiber of people today it almost defies belief, and it hints at a dismal future.
Think I exaggerate?
Consider that a survey in Britain’s Guardian newspaper found “three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates.”
American youth fare no better. “Fewer and fewer youth are heading outdoors each year,” the Outdoor Foundation concluded in a “special report on youth.” It added that “the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors, leading to epidemic levels of childhood obesity and inactivity.”
The numbers teeter on the unbelievable. A Kaiser Family Foundation study from 2010 (when the situation probably wasn’t as bad as it is today) found: “Today, 8-18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).”
And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking,” they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into a day.
In this case, the non-apple didn’t fall far from the non-tree. Adults are just as bad.
According to snowbrains.com, “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 87 percent of their life indoors, then another 6 percent of their life in automobiles. That’s only 7 percent of your entire life outdoors…. Ouch.”
To put this in perspective, a 2016 Nielsen Company audience report revealed that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of the year, a mere SIX MINUTES less than youth.
Seniors? Yep, even seniors.
In January 2017, the Pew Research Center released info on smartphone use, According to Howstuffworks.com, “…the fastest growing demographic is people over 50, 74 percent of whom now own a device. That’s up 16 percentage points from just two years ago.”
All of which leads more and more people studying what has been called “internet disorder addiction” to conclude that, basically, heavy electronic users are going nuts.
As the abstract of a “systematic literature review of neuroimaging studies” of internet and gaming addiction on a National Institutes of Health web page concludes:
“In the past decade, research has accumulated suggesting that excessive Internet use can lead to the development of a behavioral addiction. Internet addiction has been considered as a serious threat to mental health and the excessive use of the Internet has been linked to a variety of negative psychosocial consequences.”
Ouch. Indeed. With all the natural wonder surrounding us, more and more eyes only glimpse reality through a glass, darkly, alone, in sealed electronic cells.
To those of us who have spent our entire lives in a love affair with nature, this seems positively obscene and I fear it is only going to get worse.
When the current generation of outdoorsmen, hunters, anglers and nature lovers walk their last path, the woods are going to be vast wastelands of beauty, with no one to hear – or care – if a tree falls, a flower blooms or a bird sings.
It will be the end of a way of life that has sustained and nurtured mankind since its infancy and I fear the consequences will be dire.
It was probably inevitable that someone would come up with a new age term for this and author Richard Louv did: nature-deficit disorder.
Stephanie Wear of the Nature Conservancy said she believes nature deficit disorder is a public health issue, and negative health effects include a higher risk for obesity, cancer, heart disease, anxiety and depression.
And we won’t even mention other little things like the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency indoor air study found “concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.”
And the recommended solution is so pitifully small that it’s hard to believe, but in this brave new world I guess it would be better than nothing.
“In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, they found that getting outside—and moving—for as little as five minutes at a time improved both mood and self-esteem,” said Robin Mejia, author of a study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
Five minutes. 300 seconds. Is that too much to ask?
I fear it may be, but time will tell.
Naturalist Aldo Leopold said, ““I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”
Sadly, so am I.