Nature documentaries can be wonderfully educational. But ironically, they can actually isolate us from Nature.
Most of us love nature documentaries, whether on Netflix, BBC, The Discovery Channel, YouTube or wherever. We can be gripped by a pack of lions hunting impala. Amazed by a slow-motion of mating butterflies. We can marvel at the interior of a termite mound. Shriek at a great white shark attacking penguins.
We can feel we are right there, in the midst of Nature.
But actually we are not.
We are merely experiencing others’ experiences of Nature, whether it’s the TV presenter, the cameraman, the scientist, the celebrity. We’re experiencing Nature vicariously – through the eyes of someone else.
Inspiring us to see for ourselves
I believe that nature documentaries should inspire us … not to sit down and watch the next episode, but to actually get Out There and observe Nature for ourselves. If we don’t do this – if we satisfy ourselves through vicarious experiences – then I think we are missing something extremely valuable. We are missing actually coming into direct contact with Nature.
The investment is minimal. If you’re interested in birds, buy a pair of binoculars. Bugs and butterflies? A magnifying glass. Stars? A telescope. Whatever you’re interest, buy or lend the relevant guide book.
Where to go?
Forget the exotic safari to a distant location. Start local. Your garden or nearby park. The forest down the road. The lake at the end of the tram ride. Take off for just a morning, an hour, or even less.
Get down and dirty. Trawl your net through a pond and empty the contents into a jam jar. Lie on your back on a summer evening and gaze at the stars. Sit in a forest with your eyes closed and listen to the birds.
I honestly think you will be totally amazed at what you will discover when you actually come into contact with Nature.
That nature documentary will come a poor second.