LSS: Out for Mardi Gras

A few days ago, one of my friends posted a virtual sign that read, “Out to Mardi Gras. Be back Ash Wednesday.”
He wanted to let his friends know that he would soon be leaving town. His upcoming five-day trip would mark the first time in eight years that he wouldn’t have access to cell phone, laptop, the Internet along with any and every form of social media.
I envy my friend’s opportunity to disconnect.
Apparently, I’m not alone.
According to Travel & Leisure, hotels and resorts where guests can get away from technology are in high demand— no television in the rooms, no phones, no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi. The magazine predicts these “black-holes” will increase in popularity in the coming years, as more and more of us choose to unplug and take a break from the constant connectivity of our lives.
“The greatest luxury of the 21st century will be dropping off the grid. Black-hole resorts will be notable for the total absence of the Internet—even their walls will be impervious to wireless signals. Whether they’re set on mountaintops, in quaint villages, or in sleek urban centers, black holes will become the pinnacle of the Slow Food, slow travel, slow-everything movement—the ultimate in getting away from it all, says Judith Kleine Holthaus, former head of projects at the London-based Future Foundation,” as reported by Travel & Leisure in September 2011.
And it’s no wonder.
Last week, the New York Times reported that, on average, Americans consume about 100,000 words a day from various media — that’s up 350 percent from what we consumed in 1980.
I’m not convinced we weren’t designed to take in this much information.
Calgon, anyone?
But this is where and how we live, so what’s a girl to do? Traveling to or living in walls “impervious to wireless signals” sounds quite lovely,but it’s not the reality we live in. How do we become less connected?
Maybe a partial solution is that we become more diligent about when we respond to texts, emails and even phone calls. Until the last decade, the vast majority of us weren’t reachable by phone every minute of every day.
I realized the time had come to do something last week when my husband, two daughters and I went out for dinner on Valentine’s evening to one of our favorite family restaurants. For the most part, we sat at the table and had lovely conversation and a wonderful meal. However, there was one point between the appetizers and the entre when my phone beeped or blipped. I couldn’t resist the urge and picked it up to check. Within seconds, my 10-year-old daughter was the only one at the table not swishing around on a touch screen.
That’s not OK.
Those people who constantly check their phone for emails and texts drive me a little batty, even though I know and love people who do just that. It’s like they constantly prefer someone else’s company.
However, I also remain hopeful because I know at least one LSU student who deliberately leaves her phone in her car or apartment when she’s visiting with friends. She’s a wise girl who is more focused than most on being where she is.
I won’t lie. I enjoy technology. I like facebook. I appreciate staying connected to friends I don’t get to see often. I like hearing their jokes and watching their babies grow up. Texting and emailing are convenient.
At dinner last week when I realized the Pandora’s Box picking up my cell phone had opened, I ditched it quickly and encouraged the rest of my family to do the same.
I worry my daughters’ generation is missing out on knowing how to be in the here and now, but I trust the issue will work itself out.
Virtual black holes may be part of the answer.
As the fortune cookie I cracked open at the end of our Valentine’s meal read, “It is now, and in this world, that we must live.”

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