Unplugging from technology seems for many to be either (a) impossible or (b) undesirable, so most people probably never try. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I always unplug for at least 2 weeks each August. Why is this beyond my control? Since I was 3 years old, I have spent my summer vacation in an area of the Canadian Great Lakes where there is no electricity. Seriously. No plugs.
Technology really has evolved in 3 stages in my life: As a kid, I never missed the only 2 gadgets that existed at the time – TV and telephone. It was all reruns in the summer anyway, and friends just didn’t stay in constant touch. However, I do remember my mom had wished she could have been home to see Richard Nixon resign on 8/9/74.
As a mother of young boys in the 1990s, before smart phones, I was happy to retreat to the peace and quiet of a space where a few very old solar panels run the water pump and a few weak lights dim when you flush the toilet. There is no way to recharge Game Boys or iBooks; instead, we play card games, evolving from “match” to euchre and poker. We play board games, starting with Chutes and Ladders, and we still play Monopoly games that stretch over days. Sometimes we even pull out Candyland. These are well-worn, well-loved games, played by every generation of parent and child in our family.
Today, I am occasionally challenged with the simplicity of technology and its lure toward checking e-mail, texts, and Twitter. This year, it took me a few days to ignore and eventually forget about my iPhone. While on a sunny day we have sufficient solar power to recharge an iPhone, the bigger challenge is for others to appreciate that my family unplugs. We have created many barriers to reaching us by cell phone. (If you still don’t know how to reach me, let’s keep it that way.) Now that my boys are young men, they, too, are relieved to be outside of the grasp of 24/7 communication.
There is no void without the technology – just the opposite – life is fuller, we talk more as a family, and we spend more time reading. In 2003, we noticed an unusual uptick in the boat traffic – usually we see boats arriving at week’s end. We thought we had misjudged what day of the week it was. Instead, the electric grid for northeastern US and most of eastern Canada crashed. Our Toronto-based cottage neighbors had thrown their stuff in their cars and headed north a few days early. We didn’t even know there had been an electrical black out. That’s when I was once again rewarded for being blissfully unplugged.
Link to NY Times Article – Companies See the Benefit of Being Out of Touch http://pra.tw/e0t7m