It’s the Pitts 1-11-10
January 12, 2010
According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Americans have gone indoors and locked the door behind them. In the past 20 years, outdoor activities by Americans have declined by 20 percent. With about 80 percent of kids living in urban areas and the rise of what is called “Videophilia” (an obsession with the Internet and video games) kids’ knowledge of nature is almost nil. If they can’t shoot it on their video games or see pictures of it on their I-Pods, the natural world doesn’t exist for them. It’s gotten so bad that doctors have even coined a phrase for the “ailment” – Nature Deficiency Disorder. We’re told that NDD has reached epidemic proportions.
At a holiday gathering recently I observed men and young boys play golf all day on a game console called a Wii. Have you seen these? The players gripped what looked like a television remote control just as they would a golf club, took a swing and looked up at the television to see where their ball landed on a make-believe golf course. No green fees, mosquitoes or dreaded exercise to get in the way of a good golf game!
Hunting is on the wane because kids would rather shoot bad guys or aliens in video games than to get up early to stalk a deer. Most of today’s kids will never know the pleasure of sleeping outdoors with the ground as their mattress and the stars for a blanket. They’ll never learn the skills of tying a fly, cleaning a fish, dressing a deer, catching or shooting their own dinner.
Urbanites’ fear of nature hit close to home recently when a house near ours sold. The people who bought it moved out of the house after living in it for less than a month and we couldn’t understand why. It turns out that the wife came face to face with a rattlesnake in the backyard, so they sold the house they’d only owned for a month, took a big financial hit and moved somewhere without rattlesnakes.
America has become so urbanized folks are afraid of all animals. If an alligator gets loose in Florida residents in New York City lock their doors. They refuse to go for walks where “man-killing” cows may be present and at petting zoos they won’t let their kids approach the “dangerous” goat or piglet. In the Southwest recently on three separate occasions, coyotes tried to carry away little children and the only outcry seemed to be, “What did those parents expect, letting their kids go outside like that.”
These are the same folks who put steer manure on their lawns and fertilize with urea but insist that cows be kept off the nations grasslands for all the harm they do. They criticize the farmer for using water to grow food when they think it should be put to better use. Like filling their backyard swimming pools. They demand that the few loggers that are left not cut any more of THEIR trees or thin any more of THEIR forests and then they howl and scream when the insurance companies aren’t fast enough in rebuilding THEIR neighborhoods after a devastating forest fire.
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They want those of us who spend time outdoors to be watched at all times. Some commercial fishermen in California are already being made to have GPS devices aboard their boats to tell the government where they are at all times. It probably won’t be too long before the rest of us will have to have cameras positioned to capture our every move so that some bureaucrat can watch us on a video monitor.
It’s sad really, as America locks itself indoors fewer people will know the joy of a Sierra lake, a Rocky Mountain high or an enchanting New Mexico sunset. Nature Deficiency Disorder is unhealthy for urbanites and downright sickening for anybody who makes their living outdoors. For although the city-slickers have no firsthand knowledge of nature, they’re going to insist on telling those of us who do how to manage it. The poor saps don’t understand that you don’t “manage” nature … you merely learn to live with it.