One of the many reasons people go out into the natural world is to marvel at the raw beauty nature holds. Growing up, I have always been blessed with living in rural areas that are surrounded by forests and creeks. Everyday after school was always the start of a new adventure in the woods behind my house. From a young age I knew I wanted to pursue a career related to the natural world; for I was never happier than when I was working or playing outside.
In contrast to my childhood experience of exposure to the mystery of nature, some of my friends and classmates were given cellphones at an early age. The contests went from who could collect the most worms or build the biggest stick fort, to who sent the most text messages in one day or got the most likes on a Facebook post. Playing outside had become less of the normal thing to do after school and more of a concept talked about for those few in number, family camping trips.
It’s no secret that cellphones have infiltrated almost every aspect of our everyday lives. Our whole day can be illustrated by pictures via Snapchat or documented using Twitter updates. Communicating with friends and family members at anytime of the day or night is a nice advantage to having cellphones at hand. Also, in case of an emergency, cellphones are ready to call for help that could save lives. There are many upsides to having cellphones with you constantly, no matter where you are going and what you will be doing.
On the other hand, cellphones are known to be distracting to not only the person using one, but to the surrounding people around them. When a person goes for a hike, it is supposed to reconnect them with nature and bring them back into perspective. Taking a cellphone on a nature hike causes unnecessary distractions with updates constantly coming through while you’re supposed to be focused on what is around you.
Scenic areas are notorious for having hikers lined up to capture the perfect picture to complete albums of all the places they have been. Often times, people trying to snap the perfect “selfie” to share to their social media account can be an obstacle that other hikers have to navigate around. Instead of constantly taking pictures to document every moment of a hike or trip, try actually taking in the scenery. For a few minutes, just focus on the view in front of you, and take in the beauty with your senses.
Since cellphones emerged and became more mainstream within the hiking community, there are fewer discoveries that can be made. Cellphones have taken away the mystery that comes along with hiking trails unfamiliar to you and discovering hidden places. Pictures of beautiful places are taken and posted online for anyone to see, eliminating the need to go out and explore the beautiful place yourself. For this reason, National Parks across the United States have proposed a cellphone ban when exploring the park.
Nature is a wonderful way to escape from your busy, everyday lives. Everyone needs some time to relax in a beautiful place for a while, to recharge and keep your sanity in this crazy world. Cellphones constantly buzzing with updates is a sure-fire way to ruin your nature experience as well as the experiences of those around you. Having your phone around will only cause distraction and entice the need to share what you’re up to with someone over the phone. So, before you head out into the wild to explore and unwind from your busy lives, remember to collect memories and not things on your cellphones. Things can get lost but memories of beautiful places and experiences you can cherish forever.
Zarah Pratz is a Summer Education Intern at Audubon Community Nature Center.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it opens at 1 p.m. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.