I chose not to have access to a computer. Granted, the dial-up at my parent’s house didn’t make that too difficult, I could have used one at one of the hotels. And I heard a rumor that if I sat in my car, parked strategically at various locations in my parent’s town, I could have connected wirelessly with my laptop. I had one texting conversation with my daughter who found a new job. I had one conversation with my husband, one with my doctor’s office, and a brief one with my dad using my cell phone. And we watched a little TV in the evening, while recuperating from the heat of sightseeing. In today’s world, that could very well be classified as unplugged.
Thirty years ago, we didn’t have any idea of what being plugged in would mean or how it would affect our world. Like many things, we forget how good that really was for us, and choose to ignore what unplugged did for us. We were more active, our children did not have constant contact with peers to tell them they don’t “have to put up with that” when there is a problem with their parents, and we used our brains differently.
I do not pretend that I am not plugged in way too much. And a trip with little plugged in time only presented my need to unplug more often. I enjoyed talking, I enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed listening. I do believe technology provides tools that help modern society. Anyone who has ever been stranded in an untraveled area appreciates a cell phone. But it is up to us to gauge our usage. Rather than just existing with these devices, we must be aware of them in our lives. We must be in tune with how much we rely on them to entertain ourselves, as a communication tool so we don’t have to speak with someone, or to occupy our time in a vegetative state rather than face our problems. It is up to us to not lose touch and to show our children it can be a good thing to not let them rule our lives.
On another recent trip to Colorado, I enjoyed interacting with our friends two young daughters. They are doing an excellent job of keeping technology in check by not having public or cable television in their home. They do watch appropriate DVD’s in a limited quantity, as well as have a Wii they play on with limits. Our friends are teaching their daughters, as well as their son, how to find other meaningful activities to occupy their time, while controlling their plugged in time. Hopefully they will grow up knowing how to gauge it for themselves by these examples. For now they are growing creative minds, because they entertain themselves, rather than be entertained by technology. They make up shows and perform them, just as they did on our trip. We were entertained several evenings by one of their productions, and were even engaged by them to participate.
These are memories we will all treasure for years to come, not the movie we watched on DVD one evening after a tiring day of sightseeing. Memories we will hold in our minds, all because we were unplugged.