July 29, 2009

731 words 4 mins read

Disconnection

In this day in age, I find it fairly hard to disconnect for any length of time.

I’m talking about a true disconnect.

Dump the cell phone, turn off the computer, get off the internet, turn off the TV, and stay that way for a spell. I know for some people it really isn’t all that hard, but when you’re life revolves around technology and computers, it is a lot more difficult. Not only is it challenging just to execute in the first place, but at least for myself, I find it difficult to stay that way.

Almost every summer of my life we’ve gone up to our family cabin in northern Minnesota. The cabin sits on the shores of a small lake (by Minnesota definition) about 10 miles out of town and almost about 9 miles from the Canadian border. We’re way the heck up there. While some have TVs, DVD players, DSL, and basically all the comforts of home in their cabin, we don’t. We’ve got nothing here, but a radio. Even cell phones hardly work this far out here (though they seem to pick up occasional signals and download text messages). For us, coming up here has been about getting away from it all.

Of course, I took a computer with me (my netbook), mostly so that I could do work should the need arise (and it already has). Even without internet at the cabin, I have enough loaded onto the computer to keep me entertained for many hours (plenty of TV shows and anime to watch). Almost every day I’ve taken my computer into town or over to my brother’s cabin (which has DSL) to check my email and surf the net for a bit. Last Saturday I changed that though. I made a mental agreement with myself not to turn on the computer at all that day. It was dificult; I got bored in the mid-afternoon and my first reaction was to turn on the computer and start watching something. I managed to make it the entire day without using the computer, though I did use my cell a few times for work related text messages — the office never lets me get away.

It’s funny when I talked to my friends before this vacation and told them how I was going to be essentially totally disconnected (no phone, no net). Most of them were horrified at the concept. It’s good to know that my friends are just as addicted as I am. Even still, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I spend basically all day, every day on a computer. In many cases it is 18+ hours on a computer each day. Getting away from it all isn’t a bad thing, it helps me average out my daily computer time to a more reasonable amount over the course of a year. The one thing that I miss the most about being “offline”? Wikipedia.

I know some would call me a geek, or a wiki-addict, but I’m really not. I don’t mean editing Wikipedia (which I basically don’t do any more), I mean the ability to do research with Wikipedia. A topic comes up in conversation that I want to know more about, my first reaction is to go on Wikipedia and check it out, which of course I can’t. Eventually, I forget about what I wanted to know — so it’s not a problem.

For those of you that still think I’m a little nuts to enjoy my disconnection, let me put it this way.

Maybe you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, or maybe you’re in your cube in the office staring blearily at another day’s work… As I write this, it is a beautiful day out and I’m sitting on the end of a dock. My background noise isn’t computer fans, it is the sound of wind in the trees and waves lapping up on shore, not a single man-made sound. I get to watch those waves go by on the lake at my leisure, no one around to bother me. Occasionally, the local turtle pops his head out of the water or a group of ducks paddles past. My biggest concern for the day is when should I go out on the water today and should I take the canoe or kayak.

Life is good.