Friday, July 22, 2011

Plug In, Tune Out

Isn’t the idea of a vacation or holiday to set aside a period of time, whether a weekend in the mountains or three weeks in the Greek Isles, for relaxing, breaking routines and turning your back on pressures? Roll those things together and it will likely spell something along the lines of TEMPORARY DISCONNECT. By all that’s logical the goal should be refreshment, renewal, a charging of the batteries and at the same time an emptying out of stressful thoughts. And for those who don’t try to squeeze too much into a holiday, the return to home, work and daily customs is more often than not accomplished with a renewed feeling of energy and optimism. The time away has served the very purpose it was designed for.

That’s not the scenario these days when staying connected supersedes just about every other priority. At this time of summer carloads of people arrive weekly to spend some days on the beach here in Florida—to swim, surf, fish, build sandcastles, to walk or lay about on the beach. Every day is an almost endless vista of blue-green ocean, white sand and clear skies; a setting famous for natural scenery, sea turtle nesting sights and endless flights of soaring pelicans. All that and a good percentage of the holidaymakers spend their time here plugged in to cell phones, iPods and laptops. There seems to be a fear of being disconnected, however briefly, a need to escape the present moment or reality, to get back online with distant friends and workmates.

Walking on the beach each day I pass dozens of people lost in either a phone call or text message—eyes glazed, steps unseeing and the world around them invisible. They are connected to someone or something not a part of the present moment beyond the 2.5 inch screen of a cell phone. An equal number disconnect themselves from the sound of tumbling surf, the bird calls and laughter of people at play by plugging their ears with a custom made soundtrack from their iPod.

Sadly, those who most abuse the modern convenience of cell phones and anytime-anywhere connectivity are the teenagers. Under pretense of taking a survey I asked a young lady by the pool how often she used her tightly clutched cell phone. She said that she was twelve years old and that she never ever put her phone down, but probably sent no more than twenty-five texts in one day. Another—a young fella around fourteen or fifteen has walked past my patio several times each day for the past week, heading for the beach, always eyes down, always texting. And yes, we do have bosses on vacation walking around with a Bluetooth gadget in the ear talking and gesturing like lunatics to invisible employees.

Aloneness, isolation, out of touch, disconnected—are these perhaps the new fear and trembling of our society?

1 comment:

  1. This is soooooo true. Disconnect is the only way to be on a true vacation. Yet, with all of this passion in the young people of "being connected", they don't always answer their calls.....they monitor them and answer only the ones with whom they want to stay connected. A different and new generation, to be sure.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America