Will we ever forget nature? Researcher Peter Kahn speaking

We are always full of the words “digital” but we hardly realize the impact of all those virtual worlds on our lives and especially our human relationships.

We are further away from nature than any culture. Possibly also further removed from the human. Powerful words from researcher Peter Kahn but it got me thinking.

Peter is an expert when it comes to studying human behavior. If we look at nature through a TV screen, does it have the same ‘healing’ effect as watching the real thing? Peter Kahn is the director of the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems ( HINTS ) Lab at the University of Washington, where he examines two trends that are reshaping human existence. One of these is the rapid degradation of the natural world. The other is the speed of technological development, both in terms of complexity and ubiquity.

Nature amnesia, remember?

His fear is that we are heading for a real ‘Nature amnesia’. Do you remember? What we experience and learn as children shapes what we call nature and will be our reference point. Imagine what our ancestors would think of as nature if you compare it to what we today call a forest for example… They would laugh at themselves when they look at some trees that we now consider a forest. So our concept of nature is getting poorer by the day.
I grew up in a house without a garden. A courtyard with a blue picnic table with plants was my frame of reference. Someone in the Garden Design course told me that when she guides in the garden of the castle of Laeken, most children cannot handle the 1.5 km and know nothing about nature at all. They cut the trip in half.

We can’t feel what we’ve lost in generations past, he says. Keep empty words and theory on paper. Through his project Forgetting Nature he reminds us that we have never been so far removed from nature because of all the distraction with those ‘digital’ screens and especially the ‘immersive’ experiences that are yet to come. The question is, what do we lose if we also consider this digital madness as the new normal?
He calls on us to dive back into our memories and record them. That’s nice.
But I hope we get back to sanity sooner.

Do we also dare to admit that we are losing a lot of things by alienating from nature?
What do we give up and what do we get in return? Does it give us real satisfaction or is it just a temporary ‘moment’ of joy.

It makes you think. Soon I will be ‘forest bathing’ to compensate. I’ve had my dose of digital now.

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