No sooner have I taken my seat on the train and one quick survey of my fellow commuters tallies at least 75% of them are “plugged in” to either a laptop or are phoning/texting on a Blackberry (or similar device). They’re “communicating” with others, but there’s no face-to-face time involved. Have we devolved into human gigabytes? Will our future self-worth be quantified by how many gigabytes we merit? Since I’m a big talker, I still prefer one-on-one or telephone communication. Now granted, the telephone is still not the same as talking to someone in person, but at least you can share the sound of voices, tones, laughter, and the timing and tempo of human interaction. So, I ask you, how did we get so plugged in and yet so tuned out?
I am constantly amazed by those who take vacations and bring along their laptops, Blackberries, I-Pods, beepers, etc. After all, isn’t one supposed to vacate the structure, encumbrances and burdens of everyday life to escape for a little while? Here is Meriam-Webster’s definition of vacation:
Main Entry: 1va·ca·tion
1 : a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission
2 a : a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b : a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3 : a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation <had a restful vacation at the beach>
4 : an act or an instance of vacating
Notice that it’s root is the Latin vacare, meaning “freedom” or “exemption.” I have always viewed my morning commute as an exemption from technology, instead preferring to indulge in a good book, magazine, or a much needed nap. I certainly feel no need to be “connected” or “plugged in” to anything work related while on vacation. I enjoy my freedom, I love a good juicy face-to-face conversation with a friend, and I feel my relationships are more satisfying because I still communicate on an intimate level. And yes, while this blog to you is possible by the powers of technology, and I do hope you’re enjoying it, I promise you I won’t be blogging or texting anyone when I’m on vacation this summer.
My advice for a better life: Invite a friend out for a cup of coffee and share yourself, body and spirit. You’ll be glad you did.