I was listening to the Katy Says podcast yesterday. I discovered Katy Bowman’s work about six months ago and it has really shaken up the way I look at exercise and movement. In her podcasts, she often talks about the disconnect modern society has created between itself and movement. For example, driving a car has removed the need for walking to and from where we need to go. Our sprawling living arrangements has made it more difficult to walk and thus creating the need for the car. Our furniture has removed the need for sitting on the floor and has turned us into Wall.E style humans. The conveniences of modern society have made us sedentary. But while she covers that in her podcasts and writing, she also talks a lot about how our conveniences have isolated us from our surrounding communities.
At church last Sunday, the sermon was also about isolation. How something as simple as a bike lock has removed us from social contact with our communities. The speaker mentioned that when he was in Morocco, someone was paid to watch people’s bikes. If you went somewhere, this guy would watch your bike for you until you came back. If your bike was still there, you’d give him some money. But here, we have bike locks and no social contact. In my city, we have bike stations where you put money in a machine to rent a bike. Imagine if that was a person? We’d be forced to interact with people. Katy also talks about this as a benefit of more movement–if you’re walking to the library, you see the world from a totally different perspective because you are interacting with it instead of being isolated from it.
Another example would be cell phones. Once upon a time, kids used to walk or ride bikes to someone’s house to see if their friends could play (movement and personal connection). Now, play dates are arranged via text message between parents (consumerism and isolation). No one would dream of stopping by the neighbor’s without calling first. Facebook is, of course, another example. Some argue that the advantage of Facebook is keeping in touch with long distance relatives and I have no problem with that. But it is not the same thing as a phone call (here is where cell phones do prove useful after all) where you have more of that personal connection. If you write a letter, you have to write down the words, put it in an envelope, and walk it to the mailbox or post office (movement). If you just scroll through Facebook to check out some photos, you remove both the movement and the connection.
All of our stuff–all of those conveniences–not only are they making us sedentary…they isolate us from the most important thing–connection with others. Look up anything about health, happiness, and longevity and you’ll always find movement and community listed as essential ingredients to a fulfilling life. What conveniences or things in your life remove you from movement and contact with others?