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Is Modern Man Afraid of The Dark?

Is our modern progression destructive as well as pushing us further away from our dark nights and the true outdoor experience? Tourism in the National Parks is at an all time high, and every social media feed is loaded with outdoor shots. But are people truly experiencing the wild, or is it all a facade?

For thousands of years mankind lived with the night. We braved whatever terrors may reside in the darkness. Children were told tales of boogie men and goblins to keep them away from potential dangers like wolves and bears. We accepted these dangers and learned to live with them, not in fear of them. Today animal attacks are far more rare and our lighted cities shelter us from the outdoors. 

So what is it about our modern times that makes mankind fear the deep dark ocean waters or the secluded dark wilderness? Is it the fact that many meat eating predators hunt at night and it is part of our natural survival instinct? Is it the fact that your vision is limited and your eyes deceive you? Maybe it is the fear of the unknown or the strange noises we are unable to explain? Maybe with the progression of modern time, mankind was just fed up with living in the dark. 

What may seem like progression, may be ourselves driving away our natural connection with the outdoors. That may seem like a crazy statement on a website dedicated to the outdoors, but this statement is directed towards our society as a whole. Since the beginning of time, man was one with the night sky. The only light, the soft glow of a wood fire and the moon above. The heavens guided man over rough terrain and through treacherous seas. 

Mankind was in touch with the world around him and every aspect of life revolved around the wild. Men and women, hunted, fished, gathered, and grew their own food from the wild environment they lived with. Crystal clear water came from a mountain spring or a natural well. Everything we needed for survival was right at our fingertips. Nature provided and replenished it all.

So what has happened in just the last 100 years or less, besides a huge population increase? Mankind still lives in these beautiful, wild places, but we live out of touch with our wild side. Today we have covered these beautiful places with concrete and steel. Places we once called home are now just another road side tourist attraction. We are living on top of nature, instead of living with nature. Modern man has dammed its rivers, polluted its lands and is scared of its wild. 

We have become lazy as a society. Grocery stores are filled with the newest health craze, beaches are covered in condos, our water is cleaned with chemicals and our children can navigate a smart phone faster than a map. Why, after thousands of years would mankind except such laziness? Men and women alike knew how to clean wild game, fish the sea, grow a crop and then cook over an open flame. 

Today, people are disgusted by the thought of killing an animal or even getting their hands dirty growing a garden. I was once told by a vegetarian that they don’t eat meat cause they don’t want to kill innocent animals. That is a perfectly good answer and to each their own. But, when I asked this person if they would consider growing a garden, their response was hysterical. They said, "oh no! gross! bugs, and worms are in the dirt, and its too hard for me anyway!” 

Would you have ever guessed? An individual that doesn’t eat meat or want to even attempt to grow their own vegetables. Well I guess 100 years ago, natural selection would have selected this lazy person. Its sad not only how lazy people are, but how little knowledge they have in which mankind used to survive for thousands of years. Now I’m not going to be a hypocrite by saying  that I grow all my own food, don’t love the convenience of a whole foods or ordering a pizza at 2 am. 

But, these modern conveniences shouldn't keep us inside, they should only encourage us to get outdoors more often. Today, more than ever, it is easy to learn a new skill, or have the means to travel. We should use our modern amenities to explore deeper into the dark wilderness around us, instead of as a barrier to distance ourselves even more. Ask yourself these questions. If the lights went out tomorrow, fresh water stopped running, or if you became tired of the 9-5 city life, could you provide for your family? 

Do you have the basic skills to grow a simple garden, hunt a deer, make a fire without a lighter, or find clean water? I’m not saying to become a doomsday prepper, but spending a couple nights outdoors or learning some basic survival skills will make you feel alive. You don't have to be the avid outdoorsman who knows everything. I'm saying if we all made it our goal to learn one new outdoor skill or slept out in the dark one more time this year, it would open our eyes to the world around us. We should continue to use, and teach our knowledge of the outdoors to future generations. 

Teaching someone that our wild world isn't to be feared, or neglected, will make us better advocates of the outdoors. Every time I sleep under the stars, I try to strengthen these skills not only for myself, but one day to pass on to my son or daughter. I feel like as a society we are scared of our wild environment, and have caged ourselves in the safety of cities. Don’t let our knowledge of the outdoors slip away with our modern progression. Remember that mankind has lived longer in the wild, than in civilization. Remember where we came from, go out, and have fun getting back to the simple life! This, in time, will make mankind appreciate, understand, and protect our wild, "scary" environment.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Alex EExplorer

I try to spend every free moment skiing, backpacking, fishing or finding an adrenaline rush!