Are We Getting Desensitized?


As Thoreau put it, “Tonic of Wilderness”.  Nature is beauty, solitude, harmony and imagination – all the things much harder to define. Its quiet, its serenity, it’s just a place for all the right reasons, you can plan to get lost. But…

 Tethered to technology?

What astounds me on nature walks to some very beautiful locations, what I see is people on cell phones, texting, emailing, tweeting, and the ultimate diss to nature, fielding calls.

I have no problem with having the phone, but it is the way it is used sometimes. There are people accessing nature through the phone, getting the experience of nature while in nature. I find it really strange people looking at pictures while the real thing is right in front of them. This is a post I should have put on Garden Walk Garden Talk to get a wider readership since it is such an annoying subject. Nature preserves are not like they used to be.


Many people are more amazed by the bird pictures than the bird itself.  The Bobolink pictured above for instance is losing places to nest and is listed as threatened. Or we look at trees and not the good that the trees do. Trees have their own set of problems, one of which has been drought. There is getting to be a real disconnect in seeing and understanding what is happening around us.


Over technology we complain about and wish away the snow, but also don’t think about how important it is to the season which is to follow.


To see how connected we are in the US, check out the National Broadband Map. Make sure and click all the Types of Technology boxes to see the US painted almost entirely blue (meaning connected). Being connected is not the problem though.


I would not trade living in this time of technology, but it really is nice to forget about it sometimes. We live in a time where we can record nature and send it instantly to friends. I can be on a hike and still have the connectedness of calling someone if a serious situation should arise. I can get lost and then be found through the GPS. I can plug-in directions no matter how remote, and my Jeep takes me there.


City streets have people staring at their hands every where you look. We don’t really need to do that when getting out into nature too.


Some of us want the peace and quiet. As a birdwatcher, it is necessary. One good thing about where I go most often, I am the only one around besides the birds.


I was at a local park this past Spring and it is what prompted this post. I can’t tell you how many times people on phones were walking the trails. At least when going in winter, the people are nowhere to be seen. I juxtaposed images of Bond Lake Park from spring with those from January this year. The place looks so different that you can almost get lost for real.


The National Parks Service has compiled a list of The Loneliest National Parks. The list is generated from the least number of visitors per year.

Plug into what is around you.

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28 Responses to Are We Getting Desensitized?

  1. aussiebirder says:

    Very well expressed Donna, so true it is!

  2. David says:

    Good thoughts on an interesting subject. I don’t know what it is but there is something about your first photo (and some of the others, but especially the first) that just makes me want to stop and reflect on things.

  3. alesiablogs says:

    This post hit home for me. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. My Heartsong says:

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I look around me and see people attached to their phones, as they walk down the street or while driving.. I used to have a radio on my armband until I was adjusting it and hit a car mirror and wiped out. It taught me to focus on the traffic. While driving through a parking lot, a woman walked in front of the car, stopped in the middle of the road while she scrolled on her phone, totally oblivious to her surroundings.This is why last summer when I was shooting the fireworks, I just stopped to watch, so that I could experience it first-hand.While walking the trails with a friend who talked constantly, I literally said,”Stop!” and explained that this was a special time for me , meditative and a time when I can leave my problems behind and truly be in the moment and would she please leave her problems behind her and enjoy what was in front of us.She actually thanked me. Yes, technology has its place but let us keep it in its place.

    • donna213 says:

      Often when with birders or naturalists on nature walks, I veer off on my own. Most of them are vey quiet, but I like taking photos without distraction. I never do see members of those groups with phones. It is always the parents with kids and the twenty somethings texting non-stop.

  5. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Donna. I love the quiet and the stillness when I’m out there – listening closely lets me hear what’s really going on……Those unfortunate folks wearing headphones are missing the wonderful cacophony of birds singing and calling :-)!

    • donna213 says:

      I like listening to nature too. I never realize how important that is until I am hearing sounds new and different. Yes, those earbuds really seem to defeat being in nature.

  6. P.S. I just love your Flicker photo!! (at least, I think it’s a Flickr)

  7. As you probably already know, I’m also the ‘peace and quiet’ person, so I couldn’t agree more.
    Thank you for the Monday treat, my dear Donna! 🙂 Happy new week.

  8. When I went camping with Girl Scouts as a kid, the leaders didn’t allow the kids to bring radios because we were supposed to be away from technology for the weekend. It is nice to be able to retreat into nature.

    • donna213 says:

      I never went camping. I think I missed out. As a kid, I had a radio that was like a friend – until it ran out of batteries. Happened all the time too.

  9. Debra says:

    So true.

  10. Phil Lanoue says:

    Outstanding photos and tremendous post!

  11. Lyle Krahn says:

    Ah yes. The best nature sounds are the ones that don’t include human noise pollution. It’s best served in solitude.

    • donna213 says:

      It really is noise pollution. It annoys me most when the noisy people go into the restricted breeding areas and disturb the birds. Some birds abandon nests.

  12. I think its a question of moderation. We don’t really want to go back to the pre-technology world for good, but we need to step back there now and then to resample our roots and get inspired. And also we must make sure that we preserve enough sites to allow that to happen.

    • donna213 says:

      It is moderation for sure, yet many don’t pocket that technology. I think taking the step back does give us the humble look at why we exist. It is not to be king of our domain but to coexist with all beings on this planet. I too get inspired in and by nature. Sadly with declining funding, many natural places face getting closed. In NY one of our parks was to close and the property sold, but local residents made sure that was tabled.

  13. I would be mad if I had to share trails with people on phones…first we don’t have phone for a reason and I don’t mind that others have them, but really….really in nature where I want solace…we are too connected and that is too bad.

    • donna213 says:

      I find it an annoyance, but then again I feel the same way on pets off leash and children without supervision. My friend Andrea told me a story of a small girl hurling snowballs at a pigeon, and repeatedly missing, the father started to hard pack them for her. Andrea having her own five year old, very much scolded this family.

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