“No wireless?! I’m calling the realtor!”
Those were my first words when we entered the beach house we had rented last week. How would I do all the work I had brought with me? How would I read news, watch videos, and upload blog posts? What about all the online sales, Groupondeals, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, and Google chats? What was I going to do with myself all week?!
As it turned out, quite a bit.
I don’t intend to bore anyone with the details of my vacation, but nearly a week away from my laptop screen and the Internet proved to be a blessing rather than the curse I had dreaded. For all I knew, the Euro zone had failed, Mitt Romney had selected Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Pope had converted, and I was clueless about what was happening at work. Apparently none of these things materialized, and yet, somehow, the world continued on without my contributed anxiety, input, or concern.
The average American spends about 32 hours surfing the Web each month, more than double the average global total, and I’m willing to bet that number is much higher for twenty-somethings like me. What are we doing with all that time? An interesting infographic breaks it down here, but there’s really nothing surprising: email, web searches, news, video. Short bursts of time online adds up to many hours.
I’m forced to be online much of the day for work, and I spend much of my evening on the computer by choice (I don’t have cable, so I need to find other ways to waste my time). Being connected has become an end in itself, and technology affords us an opportunity to do business and connect with friends and families in unprecedented ways. But going without access to wireless at the beach for a week was somewhat freeing. I conversed with friends over margaritas, played a few games of Scrabble, watched some of the Olympics, and walked along the beach.
The technology that we have at our fingertips each day allows us to possess seemingly godlike abilities. We can be many places at once, know what others are thinking, and order anything on earth to be delivered to our doorstep. But we’re not gods, and being away from this technology for a bit, giving our minds a break, is a good reminder of our limited capacities.
Michael J. O'Loughlin