For those people who decry technology and how far it has come, each advancement of an electronic or digital nature seemingly takes us one more step away from being connected to the world. While technology allows us to be connected to people and things of the world, many claim it will stop us from being so. Some believe they would be mistaken, and that technology actually allows us to reconsider nature for what it means to us and facilitates ways in which this can happen.
Apps that Tap Us Into the Earth
There are a growing number of apps that focus on positive mental wellbeing, or mindfulness. Mindfulness forces us to fight negative thoughts by grounding ourselves in our environment and the present moment. For instance, the app Calm provides daily sessions to relax and unwind, while Headspace – amassing 36 million users since its 2016 launch – focuses on teaching you how to successfully meditate and to be mindful.
Stop, Breathe, Think allows you to input how you are feeling in order to have a more tailored meditation session. As part of mindfulness, you are encouraged to consider your natural environment, encouraging you to connect with the world around you, as well as appreciate the the pocket of the natural world you are lucky enough to collate this moment of peace within. NatureGate and FlowerChecker use a database of technology and botanists’ data in order to help you understand the floral makeup of your local area. The apps use technology that encourages users to get us out-and-about and be actively aware of your local wildlife, supporting the idea that technology can give us an active interest in nature and our surroundings.
Games that Ground Us
Games that harness the very latest of technology often also help us connect back with nature. AR games encourage us to walk around our local areas – or even further – to engage with the in-game dynamics. Minecraft Earth, for example (which is yet to be released to the wider public) has players construct virtual structures that encourage players to utilise their natural surroundings.
Similar apps, such as Zombies, Run! operates as a running app that allows you to listen to music while you run and then occasionally informs you that nearby ‘zombies’ have begun chasing you, which means you need to run faster, and further. The workout combines excitement with digitalized exercise.
Then, as the Pixies of the Forest slot game shows, some games and apps are even themed around nature themselves, and allow us to go garner an interest in all things natural through a different avenue. This particular game is themed around the myths of fairies and pixies that live in grottos and forests. For many in busy cities, a far cry from even the suburbs, nature in its abundance is hard to come by. Even a taste found in games like this can perhaps spur users on to venture out into the real natural world, and discover the hidden mysteries of nature for themselves.
Technology doesn’t mean that we have to eschew nature completely. In fact, often we can combine our love of technology and what it can do for us with the natural world to enhance our enjoyment and understanding of nature. There are meditative apps that actively encourage us to go outside and embrace our natural surroundings, and those which remind us to contemplate and consider nature, especially aspects of nature that we might not engage with on a daily basis.