An interesting thing happened on our cruise. As I'm sure you can figure out, the only way you have a cellular or Internet connection in the middle of the ocean is if it's coming from a satellite. Yes, cruise ships offer both, but at insane rates. We would be away from US radio signals for about 64 hours total, so I decided that perhaps I would just stay disconnected the whole time. And that's what I did.
For about the first hour or so it was a little strange, because I kept wanting to post photos to Facebook, but when I realized that most of the people I would want to see them were in fact on the ship with me, that feeling passed. I never was bored enough to want to check e-mail or news or anything else, so honestly I never really had the desire to connect.
It was pretty much the most free I've felt in years.
I gave Walt credentials to be able to reboot the Web server if necessary, and beyond that, I let go and went without wires and radios. Most people, save for some people I saw with a laptop and no drink in their hand, were also disconnected and focused on what was right in front of them. I don't know how other people were affected by this, but for me, it woke me up to the fact that I spend way too much time on shit that just doesn't matter.
Since that cruise, I check my phone a great deal less. I don't go back to Facebook or news feeds or anything with the same regularity. I read more. I create more than I consume. I'm not saying that the online world is a waste of time, I'm only saying that there's a balance to engaging with it that I had completely lost. When I look around, I see people who have their head down in a screen at all times, even when they're among people. It's particularly surprising at restaurants, when I see a family who doesn't even talk to each other. That makes me a little sad.
I'm trying not to sound judgmental, it just disappoints me a little that our culture seems to be devaluing the life in front of us for the life online. That's a weird thing for someone to say when his closest and most enduring friendships are conducted largely via the Internet, but I suppose the point is more that there is a time and place. If you're hanging out with me, please put your phone away. :)