what are people's thoughts?
Interesting discussion, sg1974,
To me the wilderness and outdoors, especially national parks, are meant to be experienced for just that. The natural beauty, an escape from reality, a chance to appreciate all that this Earth provides us. Even as a girl in my twenties, I love to be able to get rid of my phone and the internet every once in awhile and reground myself. Hopefully this does not become a trend that makes it to the the US national parks as well!
From Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods: "The shift in our relationship to the natural world is startling, even in settings that one would assume are devoted to nature. Not that long ago, summer camp was a place where you camped, hiked in the woods, learned about plants and animals, or told firelight stories about ghosts or mountain lions. As likely as not today, "summer camp" is a weight-loss camp, or a computer camp. For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality. Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear—to ignore. A recent television ad depicts a four-wheel-drive SUV racing along a breathtakingly beautiful mountain stream—while in the backseat two children watch a movie on a flip-down video screen, oblivious to the landscape and water beyond the windows ...Yet, at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways ... As one scientist puts it, we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature."
I added my "No" vote to the poll in the linked story. And so far, 70% of respondents have voted likewise.
If it's wifi that will reach throughout the park - that's a very bad idea. However, I used to work in a US national park, and we had a terrible time getting internet service even for minimal uses at the park headquarters - and our park was not nearly as remote as most. I wonder if this wifi is for visitor centers and park administration purposes only or if it will really enable park visitors to be online anywhere in the "wilderness". I think that wifi and wild areas do not mix well, unless you are in need of serious satellite service for search and rescue or exploration purposes. Honestly, I'm doubtful that wifi will be available throughout the park if the terrain is mountainous.
In my mind there are many other areas that the National Parks could more effectively spend their scarce resources. The mountainous terrain of the western national parks in both the United States and Canada are not conducive to WiFi and it would seem cost prohibitive. I cannot imagine hiking five miles up the side of a mountain to a pristine alpine lake only to observe people watching movies on their smart phones or tripping and stumbling along the rocky trail as they hike with a device in one hand. Now I suppose if you are treed by a grizzly bear a call for help might be in order; however, by the time help arrived the bear would probably have moved on to find dinner elsewhere.