Monday, May 5, 2008

Nature Deficit Disorder

I'd never heard of NDD before this morning, when it came up on the radio.

Author Richard Louv coined it, to describe how successive generations seem to be losing touch with nature. (I'm thinkin' I want to read his book, Last Child in the Woods.)

NDD would be particularly painful on a gorgeous day. On a day like today, when I was a kid, Mom would admonish us to "Go outside and play." Or conversely, as a threat - "You can't go outside and play until you've practiced piano for a half hour!" (And that hurt BAD!) The reason I'm a college dropout - unlike all my siblings - is I couldn't STAND to be cooped up in a college classroom on a beautiful spring afternoon! (The harsh reality is... nowadays I'm cooped up in an office on equally lovely days. Why, oh why didn't I see it coming? haha)

But things have changed over the course of a generation or two. Significantly less activity takes place outdoors, especially among America's young people.

Travelocity, the web-based travel company, recently conducted a survey and discovered, not surprisingly, that:
- Instead of hiking, biking and camping, more than twice as many families today focus on activities like shopping than did earlier generations.
- Families with kids "are visiting national parks and other nature sites much less frequently than previous generations." Instead, they go to the big city or an amusement park.

Of course, "vacation" is a small piece of most of our lives (unfortunately!). And these same trends are obvious the other 350-or-so days each year. There's a sizable group of youth these days who rarely venture out-of-doors. Their attention is consumed with video gaming, internet, text messaging, etc., instead of tag or hide-and-go seek or exploring the great outdoors.

Another factor is the child care staff, whether it be at the school or the daycare. They are VERY hesitant to send kids out on a less-than-perfect day, or unless there's plenty of adult supervision, etc. Also nowadays we're much more afraid of outside hazards - like sunshine, pervert boogeymen, bad drivers in speeding cars, etc., than we were a generation or two ago. Ah, life in The 21st Century.

Of course, many adults nowadays also seem to prefer the great indoors. They drive straight into the garage in the evening, and don't emerge 'til they back the car out of the garage the next morning. Their "drive time" is their substitute for communing with nature.

Obviously they're free to make that lifestyle choice. But they can't choose the consequences, which increasingly include obesity, impaired social skills (unless you consider "chat room" a social skill - hahaha!) and attention deficit disorder.

I declare confidently that a dedicated bicycle commuter can avoid a lot of that, in just a few minutes a day.

1 comment:

Clancy said...

I found this quote earlier today and found it humorous " Some animals prefer to live free, but some actually like living in the zoo. I guess they find comfort and security on the inside of that cage. And if there are enough amenities, they don’t even feel imprisoned."