Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

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The Locutus of Borgnine
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Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby The Locutus of Borgnine » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:03 am UTC

As I sit here working on a paper, I can't help but look forward to splitting firewood at my parent's place in the mountains. And I wonder if that isn't at the root of a lot of the problems people associate with modern life. After all, we evolved as small-band hunter-gatherers, walking around interacting with our environment most of the day. I always feel a sort of anxiety after a while if I don't do something physical, which is tough in a blazingly hot suburban hell like the one I live in.

I think that the world that most people inhabit, in which contact with the physical world is rare at least in terms of labor or recreation, leaves people feeling estranged from the world around them and ultimately frustrated. Perhaps this is just me. Any thoughts?

Bright Shadows
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Re: Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby Bright Shadows » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:45 am UTC

The Locutus of Borgnine wrote:As I sit here working on a paper, I can't help but look forward to splitting firewood at my parent's place in the mountains. And I wonder if that isn't at the root of a lot of the problems people associate with modern life. After all, we evolved as small-band hunter-gatherers, walking around interacting with our environment most of the day. I always feel a sort of anxiety after a while if I don't do something physical, which is tough in a blazingly hot suburban hell like the one I live in.

I think that the world that most people inhabit, in which contact with the physical world is rare at least in terms of labor or recreation, leaves people feeling estranged from the world around them and ultimately frustrated. Perhaps this is just me. Any thoughts?

(Oh merciful moderators, feel free to delete the living bejesus out of this if I missed a discussion on this topic, but I couldn't find one)

Uh... Most people don't live in suburbs with little physical labor or recreation... That aside, I do think that physical activity is probably something which helps eliminate stress; whether not participating actually CREATES stress is above my head.
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/04April/Pag ... tress.aspx
I would cite the actual study, but the journal mentioned in the article requires a subscription or something...
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psychosomaticism
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Re: Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby psychosomaticism » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:53 am UTC

I would think it depends on the city - some cities are rather large and yet have made and effort to fund a lot of public parks and the like. I'm from a small northern Canadian town, so I never really gave it much thought even when I moved somewhere larger. Maybe it's more of an American thing, to have large cities without landscape.

It begs the question, however, is it more the physical activity itself, or being outdoors and in nature? Were one to go to the gym frequently, walk a couple kilometres to work/school every day, and all that jazz, would it equate to living rurally and "off the land" (given that both lifestyles were on par for energy expenditures).

I think (and there's no real logical or scientific proof to this) that being in a smaller and more rural location gives one a feeling of less anonymity, something that I think a lot of people need. Personally, I liked knowing a lot of people, and having many good connections in the community even though it was small and chances were that new connections were few and far between. A larger city gives more opportunity, but feels more transient for it. (generalization and personal opinion, mind you.)

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Dangermouse
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Re: Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby Dangermouse » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:51 am UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:
The Locutus of Borgnine wrote:As I sit here working on a paper, I can't help but look forward to splitting firewood at my parent's place in the mountains. And I wonder if that isn't at the root of a lot of the problems people associate with modern life. After all, we evolved as small-band hunter-gatherers, walking around interacting with our environment most of the day. I always feel a sort of anxiety after a while if I don't do something physical, which is tough in a blazingly hot suburban hell like the one I live in.

I think that the world that most people inhabit, in which contact with the physical world is rare at least in terms of labor or recreation, leaves people feeling estranged from the world around them and ultimately frustrated. Perhaps this is just me. Any thoughts?

(Oh merciful moderators, feel free to delete the living bejesus out of this if I missed a discussion on this topic, but I couldn't find one)

Uh... Most people don't live in suburbs with little physical labor or recreation... That aside, I do think that physical activity is probably something which helps eliminate stress; whether not participating actually CREATES stress is above my head.
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/04April/Pag ... tress.aspx
I would cite the actual study, but the journal mentioned in the article requires a subscription or something...



As an architect, I can tell you point blank that this is 100% false.

Western society (of which the OP is discussing) is largely urban/suburban, percentages depending on the country you live in. Certainly, lifestyles are different in Dallas TX from Berlin, but by and large people spend most of their time moving from one box to another box, to merely gaze into yet another box--a computer at work, television at home. I, posting late at night on the internet, am certainly guilty of this.

We are in many radical ways alienated from the natural, physical world and it certainly does cause psychological problems--the degree to which is debated, of course. But we do know that artificial lighting, disruption of circadian rhythems, lack of sunlight, and alienation from the 'real' is bad for the human condition.

Much of this is due to economics, post-modernism, and technology. There really isn't a single factor, however, but it certainly is an interesting debate.

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Azrael
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Re: Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:28 pm UTC

Thread cleaned. If you don't have something meaningful to say that furthers the discussion, don't say anything. Posts removed.

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Darkscull
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Re: Lack of connection to the physical world - Is it bad?

Postby Darkscull » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:49 pm UTC

I'll just butt in with some anecdotal evidence that this idea most certainly can't be applied to humans in general, even if it does affect a majority (which I don't agree with, although of course it's all opinion and speculation at this stage).

I've never been much of a physical person. I really really don't like physical activity, even when I've had a lot of chances to do it. I didn't much like playing about outside as a kid (didn't mind the outside, but did mind the running about etc.). This isn't because it made me tired or anything, I just didn't enjoy it or see the point.
I still don't, and although I like the outside I can survive just as well without it.

It really just doesn't affect me either way. I never feel the need to 'get away' to the country or anything. In fact, I'm at uni in a remote town with probably no more than a mile or two between me and ruralness at any time, but I still don't experience any of it since I'm fine in my bubble of urban-ness, indefinitely.

I know a fair number of people pretty much the same as me, there are loads in my generation. Our lack of physical activity may be frowned upon by other groups but that's a personal judgement, nothing objective.

I think the phenomenon the OP is thinking of is probably caused more by a break from the day-to-day things causing the stress, rather than the nature of the specific break out to the country for physical activity.
I take breaks from things that cause me stress without moving an inch (well, maybe a few :P), and I'm fine. If I didn't take such breaks then I wouldn't fare well at all.
If the only way you can get away from stress is to literally get away to somewhere else and focus the mind with physical activity, then sure, the lack of such things will increase your stress. Doesn't mean it applies to me or anyone else though.


PS. I'm now hoping very hard that I'm not just echoing whatever the deleted posts said :oops:
Physicists do it in an excited state.
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