2 March 2012

Balance: The rise of nature in the post-internet age.



The love of technology in the young, western, post-“net” generation is an obvious observation. We, those brought up in the World 2.0 (the world after the spread of the internet, where Google rather than government dominates public thought), readily accept and, to some extent demand technology. How many people under 30 own some form of smart phone, a tablet, have a Facebook account, use Google maps to locate things, turn to Wikipedia for insight into unfamiliar topics and use internet search to empower their lives? Most people, probably. We readily accept a newly public life, a life of managing abundance, of ever growing freedom. Yet never has nature been so “on trend”. Whether its uber cool out-doors company Poler or the rise in cycling obviously exemplified by blogs such as Prolly or the “outdoorsy” feel to contemporary men’s fashion as with the current collection at Present in London or on musicians cover art such as emerging talent Visions of Trees we romanticise and fantasise about nature.

Why? 

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Or Zen, or whatever you want to call it, the notion of balance has never before been so easily visually recognisable. The growth in technological advancements, and the hierarchical equalization between the physical and the virtual world has brought about an unexpected yurning for the natural, for the green.

The future landscape depicted in pre-internet sci-fi such as Moonbase Alpha in space 1999 – pictured above – aren’t futures we want to inhabit. The drive for carbon neutral companies and organic produce would suggest that our future should be green. The better that cameras and CGI gets the more we want to watch David Attenborough talk about the Natural World. Viewership and downloads of programmes like the recent Frozen Planet are huge. The young and the trendy stay home from bars to indulge in luscious TV shows (usually watched online) about animals and plants. It fascinates us, natural beauty. The more we are able to leave nature behind the more we want to save it. We want to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and explore Alaska. The internet, and mobile devises that utilise it, enable us to remain connected to everything from nearly anywhere. That adventure you dreamed of is no longer impossible. Technology will get you there, help you navigate and survive, it will save if you if in trouble and still keep you up to date with the special offers of the supermarket closest your home-town. The internet has flattened cultural differences, we want to see the things that we don’t have close to home, we want to see the wild, because it is different, because our international friends and colleagues make us curious about things that aren’t on our doorstep, that the internet cannot adequately manifest for us.

There is another possible reason too. With the internet making social relations easier and fairer, making shopping simpler and cheaper, making music easily accessible and providing more knowledge then a library, the real world of 20 years ago - dominated by physical spaces - is becoming dull. When you can discover anything from your armchair, even from your phone, the joys of cities could be diminishing. Why go to a museum when you can see and learn more about the ancient world from Wikipedia. Why go to the mall when you can go on Google and find what you want in less time and at a lower price and have it delivered to your door? What the internet can’t offer is the feel of the wind or smell of rain on hot concrete. Nature is in some ways everything Technology isn’t. Its wild, and we love it….

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