Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I miss the time before cellphones, before computers, before ubiquitous communication. While reading through a hundred or so headlines in my RSS Aggregator I became overwhelmed with the number of significant stories occurring at once. One blogger even remarked about an hour long ‘podcast’ : “I’d prefer a fifteen-minute cast every week. An hour is a big chunk to bite off all at once,” as if we no longer have time to digest a full hour. Is fifteen minutes — to rephrase Andy Warhol — all we really have? I don’t want this much connectivity.
I want quiet.
While working for a startup in Manhattan in the tech-boom era I was multiply connected. I had a cell phone, a two way text pager, and probably half a dozen email accounts. Everyone had my home and cell phone. There was no escape. I would get calls during lunch, calls during sleep, calls during the weekend. It got so bad that I used to get adverse physical reactions every time my phone chimed or I had a message waiting.
After 18 months of that torture I quit, bought an airline ticket, and spend the next 30 days wandering around Europe without a cell phone or a pager, with nothing but some cash and a backpack. There was a moment, when I was sitting on a lonely mountain in Interlaken, Switzerland, my feet hanging over a ledge, looking out at these tremendous peaks, all snow capped and glorious in the setting sun, and I thought, ‘You can’t reach me here!’ I was finally free.
Then I had to come home.