Unplugged, Unreachable, and UnSocial
What happened was: no internet, no cell service, no TV, no wi-fi. How would we survive? As is the case whenever I’m selling books at a major event, I have a ringside seat from which to observe the crowd. This weekend I observed people – all ages – conversing with each other, walking along chatting and laughing, telling their experiences. I saw families hanging together, playing, talking, being silly together, and eating their picnics together. So what, you ask? Remember, I people-watch nearly every weekend, and this is not what I normally see. I see families, yes, but, they don’t talk to each other. From one side of the venue to the other they call or text. Mom’s on the phone, little ones amuse themselves, older kids are scrolling, gaming and texting. Even when they are walking together, siblings or friends, they don’t normally talk to and with each other. What I saw this weekend might seem typical or usual, as in, “Of course, families talk.” But, sadly, it isn’t. The cause is quite obvious.
Upon arrival at Lake Logan Episcopal Conference Center, guests went into panic. What? No internet? Where’s the wi-fi? What’s the code, there should be a code. How many bars do you have? How can I post my tri-times? But I have to check facebook! The shock was devastating.
Friday evening someone heard the rumor that there was wi-fi in the dining room. About a dozen people ran there, stood in the dark dining room with their lit up i-phones looking like giant lightning bugs in the camp. Only one or two had a setting to allow calls to be made using wi-fi.
By Saturday, the shock wore off. Folks were now sharing how nice it was to not need to check email or hear text arriving every five minutes. Facebook continued with no input from them. Twitter addicts seemed to take a little longer to adjust and couldn’t tweet their times as they had planned. By the end of the day on Saturday most people I heard talking about it were sorry to be leaving and returning to internet chaos.
By the end of the day on Sunday, all were in agreement that it was so nice to be unplugged, unreachable, and unsocial for three days, and discovered it allowed them to focus on the moment, reach those who mattered most, and be totally sociable with others. One Ironman, aka insurance adjuster Monday through Friday, said from now on when he went to an event it wouldn’t matter to him if they had internet or wi-fi, because he was leaving his phone in the car and all other technology was staying at home. He discovered this was like going on a vacation. “The kind I never take,” he said.
I think he speaks for all of us. We are technology dependent; part of our lifestyle. It helps us to reach, relate, and get things done. But when anything becomes addictive, we need to take a break from it, even if it’s just a weekend. It’s healthy.