Rob's Soapbox Archives
September 20th, 2010
THE CONNECTION QUANDARY
When my wife and I originally planned our vacation to Maui we made a deal; no cell phones, no laptops, no connections to the outside world or our daily grind in any way. It would just be the two of us vacationing with one another the way we did way back in 2005, before everyone had to be Face-booking non-stop, or even as far back as 2001, when people weren’t so self-important as to believe that they had to be reachable via a phone call at all hours of all days.
Alas, life got in the way and just days before we boarded our flight, I was actually the one that proposed we not only take along our phones, but also our stupid laptops as well. Things had come up; as they always do, and there were legitimate reasons why both forms of mediums would be helpful if not necessary while we were in Maui. Amongst other things, my wife, still learning again how to walk after a car accident in March, had experienced recent new forms of pain and swelling in her legs, and access to the internet provided a safety blanket for us to self-diagnose the changes in her body while were a 5 hour plane ride away from her medical team.
There was still a deal; the technology was only being brought along for very specific reasons and uses, and outside of that neither of us would find the other hunched over their laptop or engrossed in a text message for any other reason.
Beyond Janell’s recovery were other plausible reasons for bringing along the tech gear. For example, I’m an early riser and I love to write. I sit here as I write this with a freshly brewed cup of coffee at 5:30 A.M. on the lanai of our rented home watching the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean as my wife sleeps peacefully; which was one of the reasons I cited for bringing along the laptop during my last minute détente.
“Honey, you know I love to write, and why waste the opportunity to get ahead on work if I feel so inspired?” I stupidly proposed, backing myself into a technological corner from which I couldn’t escape.
There were other legitimate reasons to cart along our cell phones for this particular trip that involve honest-to-god justifiable reasons why I would need to be reached at a moment’s notice (I promise you’ll know what the hell I am alluding to in just a few weeks…stay tuned). I hated admitting it, but being unreachable for a week was, under these particular circumstances at this particular time, a dumb idea, and so I recanted our deal entirely and created a Giga-byte sized monster that followed us all the way to Maui.
We had not been in our Ocean front home for even 5 minutes when I noticed, as I was unloading the bags from our rental car, that my wife had already gotten on line to check her face book page. To say I “exploded,” would be an over-statement of staggering proportions, but I did remind her immediately that we had not flown 3,000 miles to wallow in the toxicity of the narcissisms that live on social networks. She reminded me in kind that on our plane ride we had chatted about a variety of things, including a series of people she had on her face book page who were, amongst other things, back-stabbers, accused criminals and serial philanderers, and she wanted them deleted from her life immediately. Fair enough, I thought, that’s what I get for finally spending quality time with the woman I love and getting her caught up on the happenings of the last 6 months as she recovered from her near-fatal car accident, which left her cut-off from much of the world. True to her word and our deal, she deleted the miscreants and logged off. Now we were ready to avoid technology as much as possible and enjoy each other.
It didn’t last long.
As much as I hate being so damn accessible, it’s hard to argue against the convenience and in some cases necessities of modern technology. Having two laptops and two smart-phones along for the trip made it an ease to navigate the island, find specific types of restaurants, look up and track down various businesses and plot driving routes all in the palm of our hands; additionally, every morning I was able to drink some coffee, listen to the waves and the wind and use the internet as my daily newspaper, getting caught up on the world at the click of a button in less than 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, my wife started each day embroiling herself in the daily drama of people she keeps in contact with on her face book page whom I hate but she keeps in touch with. Each morning I got the full report on the latest snarky comment made by the biggest skank in her network, the most annoying thing written by the biggest dork she keeps as a friend, and the cutest thing posted by her adorable nephew…after that, she would log on to her Farmville/pets pages and feed her non-existent cats, dogs, horses, pandas, bunnies and birds while forcing me to help her name her newly born kittens, puppies and other “virtual pets,”…in other words, it’s just like we’re at home, except we’re staring at the ocean and I’m not going off to work.
But gee whiz, convenience is a hard thing to argue against. The house we rented had full cable TV, but not the NFL package, so on opening day Sunday, I had to find creative ways to stay in touch with all of the games at once, since I am so used to being able to literally watch every single one of them at home. For the first half of the day, we did it the old-fashioned way; we went to a sports bar. Eventually, though, the alcohol, loud people, and annoying lack of a Pacific Ocean surrounding us in a peaceful way sent us screaming back to our home. There was still, however, half a day of football and I had no way to follow my beloved San Francisco 49ers on their opening day game which would no doubt be a romp over the pathetic Seattle Seahawks. Even though the first half had ended badly for the 49ers as we left the sports bar, I was confident they would regroup and begin their march towards NFC west domination in the second half of the game. So, I got home, logged on and took a seat overlooking our ocean with a fresh drink in one hand and a laptop in the other. Thank God I had access to the world and could watch my team lose 31-6 in one of the most embarrassing football games played by a team believed to be a contender in decades. Technology is great. I logged off and took a nap with my wife. Stupid laptop.
In other words, the access to technology remained as it has always been in my life; a necessary curse which provides luxury and convenience but also haunts me by its very existence. When we discovered a 9 inch long bug that looked angry in our home, I was able to immediately and quickly discover it was a Maui centipede, literally the most dangerous creature found on the island with a bad attitude and stingers to match. Had we not had access to that information before removing the creature, we may have spent the rest of the week vomiting or in the hospital, or both. Beyond that, the internet pulled my ass out of the fire when we realized I had made dinner reservations on the wrong side of the island and we needed to find somewhere to go on the fly; which turned out to be the greatest dinner of the entire trip and one of the best nights of our year. Multiple times the easy access to everything made our lives stunningly easier than it could have been, but I wonder if it also robbed us a little of a series of adventures; there’s no way to know and no time to ponder it because my wife just informed me that there are a series of phony pets about to be born and I have to help her name them. Stupid internet.