This virus and failing economy are scary. But one tech founder fears something else, too: We're too connected right now.
And he has a solution that could help Americans deal with these hard times.
Much of the country is in various forms of shelter in place, and many Americans are waking up to find themselves confined to remote work or, sadly, out of work altogether. In turn, we’re spending more time online. According to some reports, it’s 20% more for social platforms.
Brad Luttrell, the Cofounder and CEO of GoWild, believes those reports are likely low, as his app has seen a 25% lift in usage.
“This is not good,” said Luttrell. “Technology can make hard times more tolerable with video calls and crowdsourcing help for our neighbors, but overall there’s been a shameful increase in toxicity, arguments, social shaming, and hysteria.”
It’s well established that social networks can cause anxiety. Luttrell and the rest of his social media company’s team want people to take a surprising action: to put down the phones and step away from social media and the 24 hour news cycle.
“If you’re following the CDC’s guidelines to keep you and your family safe, let’s call that enough for the next few hours and go take a hike,” said Luttrell. “Constant notifications and news is contributing to stress, which is not only hurting your mental health, it’s compromising your immune system and overall physical wellbeing.”
In addition to Social Distancing, we need to focus on “Social Media Distancing.” Not only does anxiety hurt our health, there are benefits to getting outside.
A study in 2010 found time spent outdoors promotes lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerv]e activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity. And most importantly, another study found significantly decreased levels of hostility and depression among subjects who spent a regular amount of time in forests.
Simply put, getting outside makes you physically healthier, mentally happier and less hostile.
“I’m not a doctor, economist, or politician,” said the social media founder. “I have absolutely no expertise in any of those areas. But I am a lifelong outdoorsman, and I know one thing to be true: There is significant upside to getting outside.”
The GoWild Team challenges everyone to find 7 hours to get outside every week. Most governments are still allowing people to visit parks, hike trails, take walks and explore nature, as long as we practice healthy social distancing (6’ apart or more, don’t use public restrooms or touch common surfaces, etc.—see safety guidelines here).
Click here for ideas on what to do outside.
Let’s all come together to ensure 2020 isn’t the year we let ourselves go. This is a time to come together, and the best way to do that is to take care of ourselves first. The news, social updates and latest memes will all be there when you get back. What we can’t get back is the time we’re losing to our phones.
There can be good to come of the bad. And there is upside to this downside. It’s waiting for you to find it.