I snapped this pic on one of my walks in the park because I noticed how pretty the pattern of leaves was against the sky. Did whipping out my phone save the memory or keep me from savoring it?
No WiFi, Wah?
It’s ironic that I, as a person who retired as a technologist, who blogs, podcasts and otherwise integrates technology throughout my life, has been pondering on the value of being unplugged. Now, the reason I’m pondering right now isn’t Zen enlightenment, nor rocket science. I’m about to fly home for a visit with my family and I’m staying in a quest apartment at my mom’s retirement complex, that, believe it or not, DOESN’T HAVE FRICKIN’ WIFI! OH NO! I can’t believe the cold sweats this is causing. Can it be, that I, the cellphone user who often forgets to turn the phone on, who rarely checks for texts, let alone sends one, and rants on a regular basis about people going to dinner and spending time checking their devices vs. looking each other in the eye, is feeling the effects of missing WIFI cold turkey?
Yep that’s me all right. I have grown accustomed to the soothing dings of my iPad at night, and most of the items ON my trusty iPad need the dang internet to function. The day of fully downloaded games that play locally is kind of over. How can I LIVE without getting my bonuses? Without leveling up? Without checking email? (I know I’ll have my phone, but without my reading glasses it is USELESS to me, hence my love of my trusty, BIG iPad).
I won’t even be able to check my computer once I leave the airport. Sigh.
But is that a bad thing?
When Mark and I rode bikes in Ventura last time, we both snapped many cool videos and photos on our phones.
But as we busily framed the view, together, yet apart, I noticed I felt a lack of connection. Where had the days gone when we tapped each other on the shoulder to say, “Look at THAT Hon!?”. Where was the simple hand holding as we gazed at the ocean? When did life become a series of opportunities to post to FB or Instagram?
Moments you forget
And what happens to the moments we DON’T post?
I got the idea for this blog topic partly by cleaning out the unused photos on my phone. The almost duplicates, like the smiling couple above (I used a similar one with Mark’s silly face for my last blog post photo). But the above photo is good too. It’s just a different moment.
Before selfies, I had to ask a stranger to snap our photo, or just know inside myself that we were smiling over something. In a way, I think this constant technology is keeping me from savoring memories as I used to. It puts a bit of a distance between me and what’s going on.
But on the plus side, snapping photos or recording thoughts as I do for the podcast captures some moments that might have slipped by unseen. For example:
I saw these pots and found them pretty. Without the photo on my phone, would I have remembered them now? Probably not. But then, should I remember this moment framed in this way? Or should I perhaps have taken that moment as it was, in real time, in real life, and experienced it with all of my senses to imprint the moment in my mind, or to just let is slide through me as a hint of joy, not defined, not questioned, just enjoyed and appreciated?
I’ve given up tracking calories, steps, even miles on my bike. I pretty much eat when I’m hungry now, or when something seems especially delicious, I move my body for fun and because it feels good. But I notice, I am starting to see my life as a series of photo opportunities. It feels WEIRD to hike and not record. WEIRD not to tell the world what song I’m listening to. WEIRD not to snap photos and videos along the path.
Even bike riding, I tend to take photos when I stop.
I used to just rest, drink water, and enjoy the feelings of the day.
Appreciate the Opportunities
Ok, I began this blog post to think about being forced to live without WIFI. But I’m starting to see the opportunity in leaving my technology at home. It might be time to savor the old fashioned way, and build some memories without documenting them in real time. Maybe writing or recording later would add nostalgia as well as letting me share time with my family more fully, as it happens.