I love technology. The level of communication we have today is simply astounding, but with every new technology comes a curse . These days Americans have become so self absorbed it’s sickening. Everywhere you look people are stuck to their cell phones or Black Berries, or whatever. In the summer I run along the highway and I’m always watching oncoming traffic because some knucklehead is invariably TEXTING while driving and usually veering all over the road! I’d prefer a drunk driver coming at me… he may be seeing two of me, but hey! At least he sees me! The texter is usually completely oblivious.
You can’t have a conversation without someone’s phone going off and interrupting you. People have their heads buried in laptops, or iPads, or iPods, or whatever. Kids are too busy gaming, texting or watching T.V. to get outside and exercise or learn about being in the woods. It’s pathetic!
Here is my challenge to you. One day this week leave your cell phone at home. Don’t even turn it on. Don’t turn on your computer, or your laptop, or the television. If your workplace involves a computer then do it on a non-work day. No cheating! If you want to have a conversation with someone go visit them and ask them to turn their cell phone off so that it doesn’t interrupt you while you’re talking.
If you want music pick up your guitar or have a friend pick up their guitar and if you don’t play an instrument, enjoy the silence. Pick up a book and read and have your kids read with you. (Or read to them.) Have a conversation with them over a dinner that you all eat at the same table.
But Jarhead, what if I’m in a car accident and need help? This challenge is designed to get you thinking about what life might be like after TSHTF, so use your head. The idea is to wean yourself off these little devices that are the equivalent of electronic crack. If you’re in trouble do what you need to do.
Speaking for myself, I do have a Tracfone, but usually I couldn’t tell you where it is. I’ll go three or four days without it then I’ll ask my wife if she’s seen it. She’ll shake her head and call it while I run around looking for it, but to be fair she almost never uses her phone either. We don’t watch much TV at my house. We have basic cable and we watch a half-hour of news in the morning and at night. That’s it. And I HATE reality TV. If I go to someone’s house and reality TV is on I always leave feeling a little dumber than when I went in. So if I have to turn my TV off that’s no big deal either.
But my laptop? Now that’s my soft spot, my window to the world, my electronic fix. But I know I can turn it off for an evening and just read because I’ve done it many times in the past. I love playing with my young son and it would be easy to take him out in the woods for a day hike or snowshoe while pulling him on a toboggan, then come home and eat dinner and play my guitar for an hour with him running around playing with his toys until it’s bed time. After that I’ll pick up a book and read or write in my journal – using pen and paper! I could draw or do a DIY project. The opportunities are limitless!
Now, if your breath hitched in your chest when you read this, or you’re dismissing me as some kind of quack Luddite, then you might benefit from this little challenge most of all. I’m not saying go out to the pole and shut off your electricity, I’m just saying cut off all the electronic gizmos that allow you to interact with other human beings. Try doing it in person for awhile and see how rewarding it can be! If the lights go out you’d better be able to operate without all your gizmos or you could be in big trouble.
I’ll be taking my day off over the weekend and I’m looking forward to it.
Are you in? What’s your electronic crack?
BTW: Here’s a challenge I found on the internet put out by Oprah (of all people):
The Ground Rules (this is for one week)
- Cut out all technology—no televisions, video games, cell phones, computers, MP3 players or anything else you may use on a daily basis.
- No eating out. Everyone must eat dinner at home as a family and brown bag it for lunch.
- Curb your spending! The only items you can buy are groceries, and try to buy what you need for the week for $125.
- Plan an inexpensive, creative family outing. You may spend a small amount of money on this if necessary.
- Choose one family activity that gives back to others.
- Mom and Dad: Plan one date night so you can connect as a couple.
- No working late.
Here’s one family’s experience on video and also check out this family. It’s interesting to see the choices they make when giving things up.
They’re worth watching simply to see their reactions when their toys are taken away.