My wife found something interesting a few weeks ago. She found out that you can sign up to go camping in different parks in NYC! We had to enter a lottery, so there was a good chance we weren’t going to be picked, but thankfully we received the call that our family was chosen to go camping at a park in The Bronx! We were all excited especially our children. It proved to be one of the funnest things we have done as a family this year, and it gave me the opportunity to go off the grid electronically.
I have this growing problem and concern with social media, cell phones, computers, and electronics all together. I love them all, but I continue to distance myself from them especially social media. I just don’t have the time or the desire right now to keep up with it. At some point I will pick it back up, but for now I am taking a break.
With my computer and phone I feel this urge to constantly stay connected to work…when I’m not in the office. As a society we are so dependent (including me) on these gadgets that it causes us to miss certain things. Everyday in NYC people almost walk into me because they are looking down on their phone. Truthfully, the first thing I do when I come above ground from the subway is look at my phone.
I think back to when I grew up. When we left the house as a family; to go on vacation, to the store, to church, wherever…we lost the ability to communicate to the outside world. What freedom we had and we didn’t even know it. Now the things that are supposed to bring us freedom just tie us down ever more.
So as we prepared to go to camp I challenged myself to turn my phone off the entire time. It was only 12 hours, but it would be the first 12 hours I would not be looking at a phone, checking emails, texting, etc. To be honest, I had to turn it on a few times to check what time it was because I left my watch at home!
Here is what I gathered from the experience of going dark and off the grid:
- No Emergency – The great thing about a phone is it can be a great resource in an emergency, but how often do emergencies really happen? Not often enough for us to justify being chained to a phone.
- What are we missing? – The camp consisted of a several other families, and as the park ranger was briefing us on all the activities, a lot of the other campers were on their cell phones! When we went on our night hike…again people on their cell phones. There is a whole world out there we are missing beyond our phones.
- Relationships – Relationships can suffer because of our phone dependcies. With my phone off I was really able to focus on having fun with my children! Imagine that…fun, no tweeting, instagramming, facebooking. Just being outside having fun with my family. I was also able to meet other families and hear their stories.
What could life be like beyond the phone?