A while back I saw a relatively amusing movie called Wall-E. I’m sure those of you with kids would have seen it once as it was produced by PIXAR Animation Studios, a company that does a lot of cartoon movies. While they do appeal more for the younger generations, some cartoons send good messages to us.
In a scene that made me think a lot till this day, Wall-E shows how devastating technology can be to evolving humans who increase their dependence vis-à-vis independence on basic daily active routines. This short clip shows a bit of what we can be in the future if we let technology take over our lives.
After only few years since the release of Wall-E, I can strongly relate the culture we are living in to the reality of that satire. Yes there are more overweight people today than it has ever been, yes the sicknesses that are a product of overweight and inactivity is also increasing, but the institutions we are living in are not playing their important role as they should be.
The only winners in this depressing scheme are medicine manufacturers. The more people get sick, the wealthier they become. All others loose miserably, whatever position you are in, this will affect you to the bone. Just like money, the movement of people is positively related to the growth in the economy, as research suggested. The rational says that people are the ones who carry around capital physically to exchange them with goods, also known as mobility. In this age, the online market is growing and in some instances people do their shopping online, without leaving their couch. However, it is still a human nature thing for us to visit the offline, real world market, because this ads more to our satisfaction. After all, there is no such thing as an electronic cup of coffee.
But why are people not walking more today when it is a human thing to do, to use our legs?
Yesterday I saw a nice couple with their few months old child. It is their first and here’s how I knew. Amongst other clues, they had one of those big pushchairs, looks expensive with all its cup holders. For your first child, you will opt for that, then you’ll realize that it is a waste of investment because there is barely any other place than the mall for you to walk around pushing your kid. Admit that you’ve imagined yourself walking in a place like the City of Rome perhaps. No, this is Bahrain and you have just bought yourself an expensive clothes hanger.
Becoming sick is perhaps a blessing in disguise for me. Because movement is my cure, it has opened up my eyes to something I have never seen before. I have earlier written about my love towards my Garmin watch, it counts steps. When I visit cities like London, a normal day would be way more than 20,000 steps. Here in Bahrain, a normal day which constitutes a 6km run workout amongst other things would only see me reach around 10,000 steps, noticeably half, if not more, than the amount of steps I would be unnoticeably doing in London, or any other Western city.
People would argue weather, but I strongly disagree, because I tried even in the winter times to score steps here in Bahrain, and largely failed.
Here, neither people, nor the concerned official entities, like to walk and assist in walking respectively. They may be building ‘walking’ tracks, but walking is much more than sport, it is life, it is people using their legs to go from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. People fight over the closest parking spots, and authorities always fail to work on sidewalks and traffic lights that help walkers cross. Instead, today in this region, they’re building more and more fences to restrict ‘jaywalking’, without finding solutions to create a simple walking track to cross from one side to another.
Urban planning in our part of the world is a complete mess and a disaster. Some sidewalks exist for people to walk or ride their bikes on, but they shortly end, and you have to then find a large bird that would carry you over the intersection.
Our body shape is changing, with big upper body, and skinny legs. Come on people, let’s make a change!
People like to blame weather but, as you argued, even in winter it’s demotivating to walk places. I believe this is due to the culture and the way our cities are planned. E.g. try walking in Manhattan vs. Los Angeles.