Are you experienced? Exploration in the digital age

Technology, namely the Internet, has both its pros and cons. As Ben Saunders says in his TED talk, we are now able to retrieve information about the world around us at an incredible speed and with minimal effort. Checking the weather doesn’t mean stepping outside, it means pulling out your smartphone. Discovering a new book doesn’t mean meeting a friend for coffee, but relying on an algorithm. What effect is this easy access having on our sense of fulfillment in life? To paraphrase something a certain musician once said: Are you experienced?

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Today, we are both closer and more farther apart than ever.

I find myself constantly shifting the image that serves as my desktop wallpaper. One day it’s the crystal blue waters of Mauritius, the next day a shot of the rugged cliffs of the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure why I do it. Maybe its because there’s this really awesome website that has a huge repository of high-quality images just waiting to be discovered. Or maybe it’s something deeper than that. Perhaps it’s because these are places I’d rather be exploring than viewing through the prism of a pixelated screen — an innate desire to be there rather than here.

On hot and humid days like we’ve experienced recently, I too would rather be inside watching a movie or reading a book. (Actually, I’d prefer watching The Dark Knight Rises underwater in a temperature-controlled 68 degree pool). But on most days when climate change steers clear of the Northeast, the summer is a perfect opportunity for enjoying the great outdoors.

America was discovered and built on the idea of exploration. Adventurism doesn’t require that you drop $5000 on an African safari. It’s way simpler and less demanding of your wallet. Visit a park: Monmouth County’s got more than 15,000 acres worth of those. Learn about your town’s history and visit the local historical society. Or simply take a bike ride somewhere: you’ll be surprised to learn how much is right there under your nose.

As Saunders so passionately states:

“Our lives are safer and more comfortable today than they’ve ever been. True, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and from challenge. By stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown… we can all benefit from getting outside the house a little more.”

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