Portable music players are creating an alarming trend

Don’t get me wrong. I like an iPod as much as the next guy. I actually even own two of ‘em. But you won’t catch me using one out in the woods.

I’ve seen an alarming trend among .mp3 player users. I see people listening to music on ‘em while they’re shopping, exercising, and even working. I really have no problem with that.

I have to admit I get a little cranky when the guy in front of me in the supermarket line can’t hear the checker because he has his music too loud, but I can deal with that.

No, what really bothers me is seeing people using these little devices when they’re out in the woods. And it’s not just kids. Not long ago, in the Vedauwoo area, I saw a guy hiking while he was plugged into his .mp3 player, and the guy had to be at least in his 60s.

On one hand, I had to applaud him for embracing new technology. The older we get, the harder it is to get us to even try some new-fangled gizmo, let alone like it enough to use it regularly. But then again, I couldn’t help but think this guy was missing out on a good portion of what makes nature so spectacular.

And that’s what causes me concern. The guy in his 60s has probably already heard more from nature than I have, and maybe nothing wows him anymore. His tunes may have been just another thing for him to enjoy while he’s outside.

But I see more and more kids out in the woods with earphones poked into their ears, and I have to wonder how much enjoyment they’re getting out of the trip. If they’re not hearing a red-tailed hawk calling from above them, or a leopard frog croaking from below, are they really getting all they can out of their walk?

And more importantly, if they’re not taking everything nature has to offer, are they going to come back? That begs the most important question of all: if they’re not interested in going back to the woods, will they fight to protect our wild lands when they’re threatened?

I have two kids of my own, but they’re not old enough to be interested in iPods and Xboxes yet. When they are, I’ll do my best to keep the electronics at home, and hopefully they’ll experience nature as it should be experienced. The future of those wild places might just depend on it.


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