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Unplugged

unpluggedIt’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t connected electronically to almost everything almost all of the time. I’ve had one email address or another for almost 30 years. I didn’t get a cell phone – or car phones as we called them back then – as early as my cousin did. His was about the size of a small suitcase and required professional installation. I can still recall the first time he called me from his car. I thought I was on an episode of Star Trek.

I was so excited when they replaced the 1200 baud “Gandalf” box in my office with a 2400 baud box that I was ready to throw a party. And, at one point, I had a whole box of modems. The thought of wireless access wasn’t even a fantasy in my world.

But times change. And I’ve changed. I’ve moved past my early Motorola “flip phone” that had 20 minute talk time – if fully charged – through a series of “brick” phones and Blackberrys until I finally settled on my constant companion iPhone. I think I’m better off for the transition. I am not always convinced that I am. But mostly.

All this doesn’t even take into consideration of the advent of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and LinkIn and others that I haven’t heard of yet that someone, somewhere, wants me to join. And don’t get me started on the games. I don’t have a farm and don’t want one.

When my son sends photos and videos of himself and grandkids I’m happy that I can see them instantly. When I can take a photo and send it out over Instagram, I’m happy. When I check my Twitter feed, or Facebook for updates, I’m happy. But, I am days away from being completely off-grid for nearly two weeks. For the 7th time I’ll be on a ship, somewhere near the South Shetlands Islands, off the coast of Antarctica. We’ll be so far south that even satellite phones are unreliable.

What’s it like? Well, it’s a bit like living in the 18th century. Time goes more slowly. Conversations wander at a more leisurely pace. A cup of coffee can take up the entire morning and an evening chatting with friends over drinks becomes the greatest entertainment. In other words: it’s wonderful.

Being so connected is a double-edged sword. It can makes us seem closer to people far from us but can also keep us far away from the people closest to us. For the next couple of weeks I won’t have the choice. And I am looking forward to it.

Be well my friends. I’ll be back in time for the beginning of Spring.

John

 

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