"The greatest luxury of the 21st century will be dropping off the grid. Black-hole resorts will be notable for the total absence of the internet - even walls will be impervious to wireless signals." Travel and Leisure
In this age of digital overload with 24-7 technology that can separate us from the beauty around us as well as friends and family. the peace and serenity of being "unplugged" is perhaps the most valuable luxury today. People are even willing to pay a premium for an ideal opportunity to decompress and escape the endless chatter while traveling. Why?
Despite the wonders of tech today and being a world traveling digital nomad family, some how it saddens me to see people so disconnected from one another on mass transit around the world, lost in their own world, oblivious to the person right next to them or that they are even on a bus or train or plane. Where ever we go we see people plugged into their smart phones and hand held devices
Perhaps the most astonishing example was a traditionally dressed woman in the middle of no where on the one road deep in Bhutan who was dressed in traditional clothes, carrying a handwoven basket on her back filled with fresh picked greens and was talking on a cell phone!
"Technology...is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other." C. P. Snow
"Technology...the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it." Frisch
HOW TECHNOLOGY HARMS
A new survey from Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of all adults use the internet as a diversion from daily life and that is "vastly higher" than in the mid -2000s. Another survey showed 66% of people are so addicted that they are afraid to be without their cell phone. Are we headed in the right direction or just more addiction?
We purposely avoided kidlet ever owning a Nintendo DS despite them being very popular with her peers around the world, she made one herself instead which I think is far more creative and she is a passionate bookaholic. We're not fond of many video games and their addictive and brain altering properties. I find many parents use these things as "babysitters" like the TV, just to keep kids quiet and I prefer my kid has her nose in classic books instead, where she learns effortlessly without the razzle dazzle distractions.
BENEFITS OF UNPLUGGED KIDS
I love it that top technology execs in Silicon Valley from Apple, Google, and Hewlett-Packard send their kids to a Waldorf school with no tech according to the New York Times. Even as a world traveling digital nomad family who is dependent on tech, we agree wholeheartedly that one must be careful with tech, especially with kids.
We purposely do not even own a smart phone and almost never use a cell phone ( have it only for long stay bases, primarily so friends can call us if necessary). I am such an ungeek that I don't even know how to use a cell phone and hate them, forget about texting, typing with two thumbs seems totally insane to me. Perhaps it's my age or not living a "normal" life, but I like it this way.
One of our dumbest moves was to buy a top of the line ipod touch last year, which we hate and still don't know how to use. I thought it would be useful for our around-the-world family trip, but I keep trying to do less and less time online, so it's probably doomed to be a very occasional ( and VERY expensive) toy for kidlet ( hopefully for educational purposes like language learning on the move). I just don't see the need for a handheld device and refuse to be tethered to it or one of the millions sleeping with it.
WHAT IF YOU CAN'T TOTALLY UNPLUG 24/7/365
It may seem odd that someone with over 30, 000 Twitter followers ( started in early 2008) and over 5000 friends/fans/etc on our various Facebook pages, would be an ungeek and worried about the problems with technology today. Most of our tech has begun because of our lifestyle, but maybe it is because we ARE paperless, long term, world digital nomads with a tween that I can see the many disadvantages as well as the advantages. Travel 2.0 has taught me a few things along the way.
I am not sure if one needs to totally unplug 24/7/365, but sometimes I am tempted to do just that. I do think it is valuable to have many totally unplugged days and many unplugged hours every day.
I do LOVE the advantages of technology and it certainly has been a huge ( and unexpected) benefit to our travel lifestyle, but it is also a time suck and addictive tool that one has to use very carefully. I don't think I have mastered that yet and perhaps never will, but I hope to teach my child the evils and harms of tech as well as the wonders. Just like junk food, junk tech can be an addiction that destroys life. It can seem harmless in small doses, but it is a slippery slope, getting even harder for the 21st century information-age generation.
We try not to do tech while she is around or awake unless we are doing purposeful pursuits for a limited time ( like her doing school work while I blog and hubs works on finances together in the same room etc). Unlike some unschool parents, we put strong limits on her time online. When she is online, I want her doing valuable work, not learning how to waste time or falling into addictive patterns.
What is your view of being unplugged more? Despite all the wonderful things about tech, does it cause harm and how can we make less of the downsides in this information age? Do you adore the luxury of unplugging?