I admit I’ve done it. Sat with my head bowed, eyes nearly lidded, praying to the gods in my cell phone while typing away on a tiny keyboard. When I pause to look up, I realize how ridiculous phones look in the hands of large men with thumbs ten times the size of a single key. They squint and scroll and fat-finger. And I know that I have done it, too.
I have been so intent on what is coming through my device that I haven’t paid much attention to the greenery around me. It is only now that the trees are losing their green that I am paying attention. Only now that I took a long, wandering walk in the woods that am I remembering. To look around me. To not respond to the siren song of work left undone and “more productive” things that I could spend my time doing, every morning, every evening.
But my sin is not so grievous. While I know that I want to live a life spent noticing and knowing—noticing the hawk swooping for its meal on the roadside and knowing when I can walk without a flashlight by the light of a full moon—I still believe that devices can be powerful people-nature connectors, to help them access and appreciate the natural world through a familiar portal. We only need to point our smartphone cameras in the right direction.