Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tech Withdrawal...Tech Vacation...

So, my family and I just got back from a long vacation. Well, it was long for us anyway. 11 total days with 4 spent at the Magic Kingdom in Florida & the rest at sea on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. This trip was an exercise in tech duality. I had not realized how much we use and rely on our connectivity. And I'm not even talking social media. In order to get information first thing we do is check our phones. In Florida we used location and map apps to see where the closest restaurant was or even the nearest public restroom etc. We used and came to rely on technology to find out wait times for our favorite rides and attractions at each of the Disney parks.

The second phase of our journey however posed a stark contrast.

We've come to rely on technology, the access it brings, that ease of which you may find a response to query. We use technology for the simple act of communicating where we are. A text to my wife as an update- "meet you at Space Mtn in 5" -for example is something that has become commonplace. On our cruise I quickly came to realize that immediate and instant communication is a luxury. A 40 dollar/week luxury at that. When cruising, for those unfamiliar, you can buy cell & data packages from the cruise line, or take a blistering hit in your pocketbook from your US carrier for access to connectivity. We chose to avoid those fees altogether. My wife, a weather enthusiast was the first to notice our lack of connection when the topic of the "heat index"* came up. As she reaches for her phone and says "man, what am I gonna do for 7 days without my phone?"

When it's all said and done though we were able to adapt. The initial "need" to communicate & get information instantly and immediately went away within a day or so. We didn't feel like every movement needed to be shared and it lent itself to alternative ways of communicating. When you can communicate instantly the expectation is that you do. However, when you can't the expectation changes. It becomes okay to communicate every half hour instead of every minute and it became okay to communicate less frequently with those not in direct proximity.

Immediacy and availability of information is wonderful at times and is a tool that should be used, but is it essential to the plain and simple act of communication? When all is said and done I didn't need to be connected to the vast expanse of the communications network that I have at home, at work. And maybe, just possibly I was better of for it.

*(By the way, I don't know why anyone goes outside in the South, EVER. There's no break in it either. 11pm and the temperature is 94 with the heat index- that's plain ridiculous!)