This time last year I was just returning from the longest technology break I had taken in years, well, ever really. I had the opportunity to join two of my cousins and a friend on a fishing trip in the middle-of-nowhere Canada, aka Skinner Lake, about an hour plane ride north of Pickle Lake, Ontario. As I do not have an international plan for my phone, it was off the minute we crossed the Canadian border – and remained off for the next seven days. Not that I really had a choice – the only communication device we had with us (that worked) was a satellite phone, to be used only in emergencies (and it only worked at certain times of the day). No email, no facebook, no google reader, no phone. To some people this sounds horrific, but to me it was a glorious seven days of relaxing and thinking about what is really important. I vowed to take more technology breaks after returning to the States from this grand adventure.
Although I have taken technology breaks while participating in RAGBRAI, they weren’t always conscious decisions, rather it had more to do with the fact that the cell phone towers were overwhelmed by the extra 20,000-30,000 people in town and you couldn’t get a call or a text out till the wee hours of morning when most everyone else was asleep.
This weekend I took another break – although it was fairly short (about 36 hours or so). We packed up the truck and headed out to the Macbride Nature Recreation Area for a weekend of camping. I was surprised to see that when we got out there my cell phone actually worked – it had not last year when we were here. Once the other half of our party arrived safely, I happily shut off my phone – I did check for messages once during 36 hours we were there only because of some health issues going on with my family, but I resisted the urge to check my email or hop on facebook real quick (smart phones can be very tempting!).
I felt absolutely refreshed by not being uber connected to my phone all weekend. To me there is something infinitely ironic about the disconnect from reality that is created by being absolutely connected through the electronic world. A person can connect with hundreds of people through that little hand-held device but can’t hold a conversation with the people around him? Communication through these devices is getting easier and easier – then why is it people are having a harder and harder time connecting with each other in person?
When was the last time you took a technology break? How did you feel afterward? If you haven’t already done so, I encourage everyone to schedule a technology break -whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, I’m sure you won’t regret it.
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