Nature Deficit disorder

Sitting in nature has changed a lot the last 15 years, now most of us are fiddling with our phones, keeping thoughts and nature at a digital distance. Walking a few hours first can help us get back to nature

When digital reality becomes more real than nature

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

When people go on silent walking, forest bathing and start in nature therapy one of the things they are asked to do first is to switch off – or even more radical – hand over their phone. Because most of us have become addicted to our smartphones in ways that we find very hard not to follow if we get a chance

Being in nature without looking at a phone is good for us and good for nature too. Because to care about and to know how to care about we need to relate, both to each other and to nature. And like we are not relating when at home each on a screen – it is the same thing when in nature.

When the American journalist and writer Richard Louv first coined the name “Nature Deficit Disorder” in his book “Last child in the woods” ( 2005 ) it was enough just to get us out in the woods.

In 2019 this is no longer enough – To give people a chance to relate to nature, they have to be offline too – and that is fast becoming an even greater challenge for more and more of us.

In the old days ( 10 years ago) people just needed to go outdoors - today they need to go offline too, not just to stay in the digital reality, no matter where they are.

Walking for a few hours can help people get off their phone

One of the best ways is to make people walk for a few hours first ( 3-4 hours) as it will help us make the transit from online to offline – it is likely to be something people haven’t done for weeks, months or years. – When finally stopping the odds are much better, that people will tune into nature

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