The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem
Lately, I’ve been having a problem with technology.
As in, it plays too large a part in my life and I don’t like it. Seriously. It’s stealing away my youth.
Whenever I hear statistics like “the average American child spends 7 hours a day with electronics,” (*totally invented stat, by the way) I tut sadly and lament the state of kids these days.
Then I look around my apartment:
- 1 iPad
- 3 iPods
- 1 MacBook
- 1 Nintendo DS
- 1 eReader
- 3 digital cameras
- 1 TV
When I think about the time I spend with electronics, I feel ashamed. I easily hit 7 hours a day, and I think of myself as someone who isn’t technology-obsessed. When I get home, it’s only a matter of time before I turn on the iPad or the TV, even though I’ve just been on my work computer.
Turns out, I’m totally reliant on electronics. Specifically, the Internet.
I know there was a time in my life when I didn’t use the Internet for everything:
- When I needed a reference for a school paper, the encyclopedia set in the living room was my first stop. The second was the local library, which was full of real books.
- When I had a weird ailment, I just dealt with it, instead of attacking Google with a list of symptoms and grimly announcing that “I’m pretty sure my appendix just burst.”
- When I recognized an obscure actor in a movie but couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I didn’t turn to IMDB. I just *shudder* lived with not knowing.
- And, of course – facebook didn’t exist. When I wanted to know what people were doing, I had to ask them directly.
Technology has also changed the way I travel, both for better and for worse.
Let’s say I decided to visit Cyprus.
Pre-Internet addiction, I’d go to a travel agent and pick up some brochures. From these, I’d choose a place to stay. For flights, I’d either ring the airlines direct or use the travel agent.
And once I arrived, I would go exploring.
But these days, I’d start by going to the computer and pricing flights. At the same time I’d be on twitter and facebook, asking if anybody had any Cyprus tips. Next I’d read about 100 travel blogs to find out what part of the island I wanted to stay on, where to eat, what to see, and when to go. I’d then download digital guidebook chapters for my iPad.
I’d spend approximately 14 hours ‘researching’ only to wind up totally overwhelmed and unsure about whether or not I’d made the right choices. During the trip, I’d continue to consult the internet about decisions.
In other words, time that could be spent exploring the island on foot would instead be spent exploring the island virtually.
I am totally aware of the irony here. I’m a travel blogger, so getting down on the Internet is pretty hypocritical. I do think there are a lot of great things about it, but I’m frustrated that one of my main hobbies is unavoidably online.
The real problem isn’t the Internet; it’s that I’ve become lazy and reliant on it for entertainment. That’s what irritates me the most. Sometimes I just sit down in front of my computer and stare. Exactly like gravitating to the fridge when you’re bored, hoping that something new has appeared.
If I cut back on pointless Internet use, I’m not quite sure what I’d do.
Actually, I am: Write. Read. Talk. Explore. Think. Learn. Live.
I’m never going to give it up completely, nor do I want to. But I am going to try to say no every once in a while.
No to saying, “that’s so going on facebook,” and no to watching kitten videos on YouTube (That’s just an example. I don’t really do that.), and no to pretending I’m doing work when all I’m really doing is looking at people.com (which is obviously another example).
And hopefully, I’ll regain a little of what I had before the Internet. Creativity, motivation, imagination, and the knowledge that our world isn’t really meant to be explored online, but in person.
What do you think?
Does our addiction to technology hold us back from fully experiencing our travels (and life)? Or is technology a welcome integration to the way we travel?