Before electronics took over the world, there weren’t any. So how did people live their lives? Moment by moment for the most part. Because electronics are so widespread, we miss out on real human connection, fleeting moments, and life’s little joys. Without further ado, I give you this piece, Why You Need to Unplug on Your Next Trip to the Outdoors.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all electronics are bad. I would never get rid of my GPS in the back country. There is a time and a place for a GPS. If you know where you are though, you probably don’t need it. I am primarily talking about phones, speakers, laptops, tablets, and anything else of the sort. Those are major brain drains, taking a damper on the joy of the outdoors and distracting you from what really matters. That will be the primary concern here.
Let’s get started.
Life Happens in Front of You
Did you see that? A beautiful bird just whizzed by you. It’s now in the tree singing on a branch and whistling a happy tune. You cannot find that moment captured on a phone. The cool breeze passes through you. The sun shines down on your cold skin and warms you up. An oak smell pervades your nose. A phone cannot capture all of that. A moment is there and then it’s gone, reminding you of life’s shortness and the fragility of our existence.
If you want to really take everything in, then you have to let the phone go. It takes away, rather than replenishes. Life’s best memories are recorded by your mind, not your camera.
You get a full experience when you disconnect.
FOMO isn’t Doing You Any Good
Have you ever heard of FOMO? Fear of missing out? It’s a real problem. Whenever I go on social media, I feel a lot of it. If I look at my friends on Facebook enjoying themselves at Burning Man, I feel left out. I wish I were there. If my friend Blake and his girlfriend are eating out at a delicious restaurant, I think I should too. I deserve it after all.
Social media captures you into a nonstop cycle of ‘keeping up with the Jones.’ It’s not good for you or you wallet. The mental toll is excruciating.
When you have your phone on you, you experience nonstop FOMO, preventing you from existing in the present.
When you have high levels of FOMO, you turn into a drug addict of sorts. It’s a strong addiction preventing you from living life on your own terms for your self.
On the other hand, when you choose to turn off your phone, the comparison game stops. It is now only you and nature. There is not a constant competition going on. You can breathe slowly and relax. The giant sequoia hugs you, forgives you, and appreciates you. It is alright.
When You Use Electronics, You Impose on Others
The other day I was hiking in Death Valley. It was a wild trip. I will get into it in another article. I definitely recommend you go there if you can. It makes you appreciate cold weather.
I was heading to Darwin Falls on a day hike. It was going to be incredible. Water in the desert I mean? Who has heard of that? It sounds bogus. I took a short break on the trail to replenish my fluids. Then I heard a whisper. What? No, it can’t be. The sound grew louder and louder. It was two guys playing rock ‘n roll. Sheesh! Pick a better genre. Am I right?
You get the point of this story. While they were enjoying rock tunes, they infringed on my outdoor adventure. It was a travesty! They chose the rambunctious sounds of Bon Jovi to the soothing siren’s call of the wild. Bleh!
They took me back home to my worries, my troubles. It was a let down to say the least. While there is no hard and fast rule on speakers in the outdoors, there is a social pressure to do otherwise and be respectful of other’s experience. And you should. You can go a few hours or even a few days without electronics.
It won’t kill you.
And have you heard of headphones?
You Need the Alone Time
Because of the high interconnectedness of our world, solitude and deep thought is scarce. Email constantly berates us. Unknown spam phone numbers call us. The city lights blind us. Car honks pierce ears. Family wants to know how you’re doing. Work acts a bit invasive. It’s overwhelming. There is little time for critical self reflection and deep thinking.
We’re constantly rushing from one thing to another we forget to smell the roses. The end is fast approaching before we know it. You need to slow down. You don’t have to stop the fast life completely. It is just important to remember to slow down from time to time. Life passes you by in the blink of an eye. We need to appreciate the journey we are on.
Turn Them Off and Give Them to a Responsible Person
There are a number of ways to get rid of your electronics. I recommend turning them off and leaving them at home. If not, that’s okay. You can do the same in the glove compartment of your car. You can also turn them off and give them to someone responsible, someone who won’t use electronics on the trip like I did on my recent backpacking trip to Death Valley. This is a safe bet.
When I go hiking alone for instance, I put my phone on airplane mode and deep into my backpack. I do like to use my GPS if it works from time to time. It’s okay to be imperfect.
More than likely, nine times out of ten, your boss will not have an important call or email for you that needs to be answered right this instance and not a moment later. You’re not the president of the United States. It can probably wait. The world will not end if you are unreachable for a few hours or a few days.
Make Sure You Have an Alternative in Place
It is one thing to take away the addiction. It’s another thing to fill the empty time. If you take an alcoholic for instance, they need something to take up their time from heavy drinking or else they renew their addiction with a vengeance. The free time eats away at them. The mind gnaws at them.
The same goes for your electronic habit.
Books, cards, board games, social interaction, contemplation, and the like all keep you busy. You don’t have to choose something complicated. You can go simple. Bring a journal along with you and write down your thoughts. The experience will be rejuvenating.
If you want to take pictures, then you can use an actual camera instead of your smart phone or a throwaway Kodak camera. You will have to actually take careful shots so you don’t waste the film.
‘Do You Want to Take a Hike Buddy?’
You should be all set to go. I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go do some Tai Chi in the park :).
Before you go though, I definitely recommend you consider hiking. If you can walk, you can hike and you sure as heck will need some boots. That’s why my previous article, The Best Men’s Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots of 2019, is here to help (I update these types of articles annually and they come in comparable women’s pairs :)). Check it out. A solid boot will be sure to last for plenty of years of outdoor adventure to come.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!