Matt Niswonger
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Breaking the cycle of digital addiction 

Buddhism is often considered a religion, but it’s more of a philosophy and a method of creating happiness. Buddhism works in combination with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and any other religion. That’s because Buddhism isn’t concerned with the existence of God or the afterlife.

The purpose of Buddhism is to liberate people from suffering in this life, on a daily basis. According to tradition, the creator of Buddhism was a man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama who lived about 2600 years ago in India. He was the first to achieve a state of mental liberation known as nirvana. Thus, he became a “Buddha,” or enlightened one.

The Buddhist method of helping people achieve mental health has proven itself throughout history. Starting with the simple truth that craving and desire are at the root of all unhappiness, modern practitioners extoll the virtues of letting go of outcomes and seeking mindfulness. Being mindful helps one slow down distracting mental chatter and be more effective in the moment. If you think about it, being in the moment is a prescription for happiness. The future and the past exist only as interpretations of reality; the present moment is all we have. That’s where happiness is possible.

Without happiness human existence is futile. Here at Adventure Sports Journal (ASJ) we have made human happiness our mission. That’s why we prioritize human powered adventure. That’s why we promote mountain biking, surfing, climbing, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and other nature-based activities. We consider these activities to be a form of active meditation. To us, outdoor recreation is a sacred path to healing and happiness. More than anything else, we believe that without human happiness the fate of the world is hopeless. That’s why we are so passionate about tearing down all barriers that exclude certain groups from outdoor recreation on public lands.

If you agree with our mission, please help us. We are fighting a quixotic battle against Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and smartphones in general. We condemn these addictive devices as antithetical to happiness. Smartphones are designed to constantly pull you out of the moment and into a cycle of craving meaningless digital affirmation. If you spend two hours a day on your phone, they want you to spend three, then four, then five. It’s not complicated. All these big technology companies really care about is money.

Sadly, many of the outdoor brands that used to support ASJ with their advertising dollars are now saying their marketing budget is “100% digital.” It doesn’t cost much for a big company to support ASJ, but they have chosen to let us wither and die because someone high up in the company has decided, “It’s all about smartphones.”

We are fighting tooth and nail to keep this from happening. We think smartphone usage has peaked because people see how miserable the cycle of digital addiction truly is. Personally, I feel like a fool when I respond to my phone like an addict trying to get high. These devices have hijacked our lives and turned us into zombies. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

As Buddhism has been emphasizing for thousands of years, happiness involves being mindful of the present moment. Smartphones are making us miserable because they destroy this mental state. We are pushing back against companies who embrace this 100% digital future. We feel it is irresponsible for them to turn their backs on printed magazines like ASJ to exclusively promote digital addictions that are destroying people’s lives. 

Smartphones are a useful tool but they shouldn’t be all consuming. For the sake of our children’s future, we need to fight back. Please tell outdoor companies to support Adventure Sports Journal. There simply must be an alternative to digital marketing. Without your help, we simply cannot survive. Read this magazine and reduce your addiction to digital devices. Your happiness depends on it.

Thanks for reading. You can also support our mission by going to asjmag.com/membership to support us with a monthly donation. 

If you have any suggestions or comments to help us survive please send me an email.

— Matt Niswonger

matt@adventuresportsjournal.com