Plug into nature

Connecting to nature, is there an app for that?

From the most distant plains in Africa to the mountains of Tibet and on to windy Patagonia everybody seems to have one thing in common now – they carry a phone with them, so they can connect to just about any other person on the planet, but what about connecting to nature, can we still do that?

“ohh”, you can hear the nearest teenager say: “yes – of course, there is an app for that!”

woman plugging her smartphone into a tree
How do you plug into nature?

For the enlightened, old Indian, moving along the trees with a quiet smile, sitting down for ages at the edge of a pond, contemplating about the rings that the fishes make from time to time, closing his eyes and tuning into the universe… now there is an app for that.

For the scientist researching cultural trails, slipping down in the mud beside an ancient long forgotten, overgrown Roman bridge, that must have been in continual use through thousand of years, wondering if the bridge is made from the same stones as Stonehenge… there is an app for that.

For the ultra fit long distance hiker, with his top-tuned gear, GPS and heart-rate monitor. Ready to beat his last time, or conquer another mountain, river or another trail challenge that was barely possible for a few years back, but now might be possible,  because… there is an app for that.

But is this really connecting to nature? I wonder what it means to “connect to nature” through an app, is it really to connect, or is it more that the app mediates the whole experience in a way, so you end up being more connected to the app, and to the graphs, maps, info streams and updates it can give you, than to nature?

The teenager will give me a tired look: “Honestly” he will say, “I don’t know if there is an app for that…”

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

See and download more of my drawings about the environment

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