friends, New Jersey

off the grid

Last night I hung out with a friend who basically has zero personally-controlled presence on the internet. No Facebook, no Google +, no Tumblr or Flickr or Twitter or anything. During a conversation about Peggy Lee’s version of “Big Spender,” he remarked that he didn’t know anything about Peggy and that he wanted to find some things out. I said, “Well hey, there’s this really great thing now called The Internet. You can look up all kinds of information; it’s like an encyclopedia, but faster.” He asserted that he has plenty of experience with the internet, but when I pressed him for details on what he uses it for, he said “Email.”

Meanwhile, he was busy telling me that I am addicted to technology. Any time he walked away, I was pushing buttons on my iPhone – checking in on 2 email accounts, text messages, my calendar, Facebook. And I realized that I do always have the phone with me – even when I’m just walking from room to room in my house, it’s by my side.

I don’t know, maybe I am addicted to technology. I can’t help it, I love instant access to knowledge. I am a sucker for social networking, being able to see what people are doing and thinking about all day while I am not with them. I love that even though Ashley has moved to France for the next 8 months, I feel like she’s still here because her Facebook feed is popping and her blog is updated (she added a category/tag called “Oh Ashley” which made me grin so much).

It’s kind of strange to me now, the idea that I might not have access to things – people, pictures, videos, music, poems. I believe that the internet and all its associated goods and evils have really revolutionized the way we communicate, and in lots of ways I like it.

But this dependence on technology also makes me realize that we now take for granted the access we have to people. We expect people to be available, we expect to know the things we want to know about them. And it has the potential to influence the way we communicate in another way, too: simply by seeing activity on a social networking site, doesn’t that sometimes give us an excuse to not make personal contact?

All of this to say: nothing beats a couple of beers at the bar.

3 thoughts on “off the grid”

  1. Love this post, Rachel. I’ve been trying to curb my habit lately, but I enjoy being connected. Random people I’ve met have become friends and comrades who inspire me. Nevertheless, sometimes we just need to disconnect. Briefly. 😉

  2. I’ve been thinking about it a lot too. Since I’m in FR now (and since my phone was lost/stolen), I don’t have my automatic updates, meaning my phone doesn’t beep every single time I get an email. It’s weirdly refreshing. The absence of those noises is really loud, actually.

  3. I am also a technology addict and I’ve found that overall it benefits me because I am also extroverted. I have, when I get a little too isolated, avoid real social interactions and opt for the internet. But once I get my mind back on track, I see the benefits technology offers for community building and professional development. It’s a big part of my life and while it might not be for everyone, it is right for me 🙂

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