Seeing the forest for the virtual trees

I cannot help but wish it was summer once again and I was sitting in a boat somewhere casting a fly line

As I sit here at the computer, looking out the window, watching the snow fall and dreading the months ahead, I cannot help but wish it was summer once again and I was sitting in a boat somewhere casting a fly line.

I have always enjoyed my time on the water. I’m content to just sit in my boat and enjoy all the wonders of nature around me.

Fishing is less about catching fish than it is about actually being in the great outdoors. My point being that even though winter is my least favourite season, I would still rather be outdoors than siting here, indoors, at the computer.

However, I’m not so sure the same can be said about far too many young people nowadays, who, it would seem, simply don’t relate to nature and the outdoors. They’re too busy holed up in their bedrooms playing virtual reality video games rather than getting some fresh air. Granted, virtual reality games have evolved over the years, especially virtual reality fishing games. Some of them are pretty cool. But sitting in a dark room is not the same as sitting in a boat, out on a lake, breathing in fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. No graphics program is the same as real life.

The hours I do have to spend sitting in front of my computer are mostly spent gathering information for my column.

Having said that, I do recognize the fact kids today certainly have to know a lot more about computers and how to find things on the Internet than I’ll ever need to know. Computers, electronic gizmos and virtual realities are all a part of their world, part of their learning process, part of their reality.

I have nothing against computers or video games. I also know that video games require a high level of skill. However, as much fun as playing a video game may be, there is still something to be said for doing things like casting a real fishing line to real fish. Not only is the heart-pounding thrill of tying into a three- or four-pound rainbow trout more satisfying than testing your skill level against a simulated facsimile, there is something to be said for experiencing all the sights and sounds and smells around you – something to be said for experiencing the sense of peace and tranquility that comes with spending time on the water.

Not every kid is into fishing, the same way not every young person is into hiking or cross-country skiing or any of the many activities that take place in the outdoors.

I guess my real concern with virtual reality games is that with spending so much time sitting in front of a computer screen, for too many young people there also comes a disconnect with nature. If those young people can’t relate to nature, how can they ever respect nature? And without respect, how are they ever going to care about and for nature?

On the other hand, I have complete and absolute faith in young people. They will figure things out the same way we managed and, perhaps the mistakes that we made will be corrected by the next generation.

Our natural world is an ever-changing place. Attitudes change too.

We just got rid of a federal government that cared little about nature, a government that was willing to sacrifice the wonders and beauty of nature for the sake of development and profit.

Hopefully things will improve with the current government.

I suppose when it comes right down to it, virtual reality games are but a part of the younger generation’s reality. If that is true, then it is up to us to make sure that young people at least get a chance to know and understand and appreciate the real wonders of nature – then let them make the best decisions they can.



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