Two weeks ago, I was a temporary citizen of Wyoming. I went to Grand Teton National Park on a seven-day vacation with my father and sister. It is a tradition for us to go to the Tetons once a year in September. I look forward to this trip for months. For one week out of the 52, I escape. I am not necessarily escaping from people or school work, but rather I am escaping from technology. Unplugging is underrated. But it shouldn’t be.
The power that comes from detaching oneself from the cell phone and the texts and the tweets and the wall posts and the static and the search engines and the electronic traffic and the eBay bids and the advertisements for various enlargements is incredible. Too often we forget that the beautiful screensaver of majestic mountains we have on our laptops can actually be seen in person if we just close our computer and open our front door. Our fingers have become so busy typing 140 character descriptions of every small, insignificant thing we do throughout the day that we actually forget to use our feet to walk around and discover our environment and the people that live in it. Surprising as it may seem in today’s electronically controlled world, humans actually exist in 3D. Maybe we should try interacting with them in person sometime.
Okay, so I am being a little preachy. And a little hypocritical. I will admit it, this year in Wyoming I was connected. I needed to use the Internet for a few assignments in some of my classes. I promised myself at the beginning of the week that I would only use the Internet when I had to submit my assignments. By the end of my first day of vacation, I had broken my promise. I updated my status about how wonderful it was to be in nature. I chatted on Gmail about the wildlife I had seen (while most likely missing a coyote or two out the window as I focused on the computer screen instead). I browsed sites looking for mountain bikes. I was plugged in and tuned out.
Fortunately, I caught myself early on being roped back in to the incredibly seductive world of the Web. I paused. I shut down the computer. I turned off my phone. I put on my far too clean hiking boots and stepped outside. The crisp mountain air was invigorating and much more seductive than Google. I started walking and started remembering that the most simple and best things in life come without a username and a password.