Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unplug and Look Up

Do you ever wish that the internet didn't exist?

Don't get me wrong, I use the information superhighway often and it's been hugely beneficial to me in a lot of ways, but I'm not sure that the good outweighs the bad sometimes.  Technology is getting out of hand.

Everyone is so plugged in that they miss what's going on in front of their faces.  Have you seen this ad?:

Why in the hell are these people on vacation???  They can read, watch movies, and play games at home!  They're in a tropical paradise and NOBODY IS EVEN LOOKING AT THE WATER. 

I saw a similar phone commercial recently where the company was highlighting the function of watching movies on the go.  A guy was playing some team sport (I think it was baseball), and when he went back to the bench, MID-GAME, he picked up his phone and started watching a movie while the rest of his team played in front of him.  What a douchebag.  I do not want to know this guy, much less be him. 

Mine was the last generation to grow up without the internet and cell phones, and I can't help but reminisce about the "good 'ol days". 

I'm re-watching the show Felicity from the beginning on Netflix (a piece of technology that I'm grateful for), and it illustrates what I'm talking about perfectly. 

The show started in 1998, when hardly anyone had cell phones and digital photography hadn't become commonplace yet.  Noel had a website ( and everyone made fun of him for it, asking, "why do you need a web page?".  They left messages on answering machines for one another, or went out looking for their friends when they didn't know where they were. 

Last night, I was watching an episode where Sean bought a bunch of disposable camera vending machines as a get-rich-quick scheme.  The scene went like this:

Sean:  What's the most you guys would pay for a disposable camera?  Twenty bucks?
Ben:  What if you already have a camera?

Sean:  No no no, I'm going to put these vending machines in prime locations, like maternity ward waiting rooms.  Restaurants.

Ben:  Oooh, yeah, every time I go to a restaurant, that's what I really wish I had.  A camera.

Sean:  Yeah, well you guys are laughing right now, but soon you'll be working for me.  And then I'll fire you.

Isn't that hilarious?  It was a ridiculous notion to think that you'd want to pull out your camera in a restaurant!  There was a time when people didn't document every single day of their lives or take photos of every single meal they ingested--and that time was only 15 years ago! 

I'm not saying that I'm not guilty of living behind a lens--I'm probably worse than most--but wouldn't it be nice if we just unplugged and lived our lives for a while?

Part of the reason I've been absent from my blog lately is because I've been cutting back on social networking and technology in general.  It's been wonderful. 

I challenge you all to try it for a day or two:  Sign out of Facebook.  Turn off your phone.  Go somewhere without checking in.  Eat something without photographing it first.  Play a board game.  Lay in the grass and look at the clouds.  Go for a walk.  Live. 

Let's call it the:

If any of you decide to do this, please let me know how it turns out!  Feel free to steal my graphic and blog about it yourself.  Challenge others.  Spread the word (albeit ironically) about unplugging from technology, THROUGH technology.

Who'd have thought that turning off an electronic device could seem so radical, right?  If you're feeling anxious about unplugging, that's probably a good indication that you should do it.  For me, taking a step back was all I needed to see that I was going overboard.  

As with anything, moderation is key.  I don't expect people to chuck their iPhones into the ocean (seriously, don't do that--that would not be good for marine life), but maybe a few of them will start living their offline lives as actively as their online ones...or at least leave their tablets in the hotel room when they go to the beach.
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