There’s been a troubling cultural shift in recent years, and it deserves addressing. As technology enables us to communicate faster than ever before, it’s easy—especially for young people, who have never known things any other way—to get caught up in the whirlwind of instant communication. That’s why I think that if teens today want to start having more meaningful, fulfilling interactions, they need to stop texting me every time they visit a mountain.
It wasn’t always like this. Just a few short years ago, I’d never hear anything about which mountains teens were choosing to visit. Today, my phone is inundated with messages from teens across the world at mountains. Considering the sheer number of teens and mountains out there, I have a steady flow of 50-plus messages every day from youngsters at the summit of Mount Rainier or traversing the treacherous crags of Mount Shasta.
Who wants to live like that?
It seems like there’s nowhere one can go to unplug any more. Just once, I want to have a nice dinner with my wife, Evelyn, where I don’t get a barrage of messages from kids at the peak of Mount Fuji or a bunch of teens setting up a base camp at K2. Where are our priorities?
Here are just a few of the text messages I’ve received:
But I suppose there’s no escaping the long arm of modern technology. I’ve tried changing my number three times, but each time teens find me again, and I get a new set of messages like “at mountain now” or “I’m 17 and at Mt. Vesuvius.” Unfortunately, that’s just the world we live in now—one where privacy is less important than topography.
So I say to the teens of today: I want you to stop and really think about what you’re doing. When you send updates on your ascent of Kilimanjaro to my unlisted telephone number, are you really experiencing it any more? I suspect not. So do something about it! Why not put down the phone for once, grab your Sherpa, and start living.