3 mins

Craig Gavigan- host of The Unplugged Debate – is now back from the arctic circle.
And he is on a mission.
His idea?
Reconnecting people to green and blue spaces.

Earlier this year, he launched the podcast “The Unplugged Debate,” where guests talk about their entanglements with the outdoors and technology.

Their conversations take listeners on fascinating journeys.
Each episode creates full, vivid pictures of experiences ranging from surfing, husky sledding, skydiving, or swimming the English Channel.
And they zoom in on how a guest “thinks technology has changed their outlook on life and their time in the outdoors.”

These conversations inevitably lead to larger discussions.
Craig is particularly interested in examining “how technological developments are changing society on a wider scale.” He relishes delving into how these two aspects of modern life are intricately now woven together.

Everyday Grit co-founder Em was recently a podcast guest.
Craig said: “Our talk provided a unique background to the technology side of ‘The Unplugged Debate’ while still having a strong connection with the outdoors.”
The interview allowed us to learn more about Craig and his plans to reconnect people through nature.

Unplugged Debate – the backstory

Craig himself has always been an “outdoorsy” person.
He began playing rugby at 6 and began coaching at age 16. From rugby, Craig went on to do a degree in Adventure Education.
In his third year of studies, he went to Norway and became a husky sledding wilderness guide.
He fell in love with the arctic circle and continued going back.

“I loved taking people out on 3-day tours. Spending the whole time out in the wilderness at minus temperatures definitely provides a break from the rat race of the busy modern world that we live in.”

In 2019, he was ready to launch a new business venture – “Unplugged Expeditions.”
The plan was to take small groups of people and unplug them from the digital world by reconnecting them with nature, sans technology.
But because of Covid-19, Craig decided to postpone the venture’s launch.

Then, during the winter of 2020, back in Sweden for another season of husky sledding, the idea of an “unplugged” podcast idea began to grow.

“I felt I needed to pursue the ‘digital detox’ experience that I was hoping to provide with “Unplugged Expeditions. I wondered what other avenues might raise awareness of the debate of the modern digital world. This is how the podcast was born.”

The Unplugged host Craig Craig Gavigan adds wood to a campfire in the woods by the side of a wide river with woodland and a bridge spanning small waterfalls in the backdrop

Craig Gavigan at campfire – Image courtesy of Craig Gavigan

The big picture

There is a range of opinions and studies about how technology may or may not impact mental health.
But unfortunately, the scientific findings are not conclusive for trends such as social media.

For example, the OECD’s recent report “Children & Young People’s Mental Health in the Digital Age” found, “there is a need for further research and improved measurement to address the lack of comparable data on children’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as their internet and social media use…”

At the same time, activities such as Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) in Japan offer evidence that spending time outdoors does help improve health.
With benefits such as reducing blood pressure and boosting the immune system, the practice has been adopted and adapted in Korea, Germany, the UK, and the US.

These are the questions that interest Craig.
Through the lens of podcast interviews, The Unplugged Debate is having conversations about questions with no definitive answers.

Craig points to his own experience during the pandemic as a case in point.
With the arrival of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the plans to launch Unplugged Expeditions were indefinitely postponed.
As a result, he decided he needed to go to his “happy place” – the arctic circle.
While there, Craig spent his days outdoors and taking care of huskies. He began to get perspective on the state of his mental health, and new ideas emerged.
It was this experience that helped him shape his idea for his podcast.

What’s next?

Craig is fascinated by the subjects of the outdoors, technology and connection.
He continues to plan for his venture combining digital detox and nature. And he sees his current activities – hosting The Unplugged Debate and working as a park ranger in western Scotland – as the path that will lead him to his dream of helping people to reconnect, naturally.

The Unplugged Debate logo is a bluish-green line drawing of an electrical cord coiling into what suggests a tree against a white background

The Unplugged Debate – Image courtesy of Craig Gavigan

Our editors independently choose all podcasts featured on Everyday Grit.
We earn no affiliate commissions or any other revenue from any of the podcasts featured in our articles

You may also be interested in our article about three must-listen sober podcasts – “Sober Sex,” “Hooked: the unexpected addicts,” and “How to dance sober” – and discover the entertaining ways the “sobriety lifestyle movement” is changing the way people socialize.

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