technology

Unconnected

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I have been living for a month with no home phone, internet or TV. Perhaps you think I am barely surviving, but in fact, it’s been enjoyable and I have learned a lot from the experience of being unconnected to the rest of the world.

I am still working, so I have use of the phone there and can make the calls I need to. The internet there is dial-up, and is set up for a specific sending procedure, so I can’t go online at work at all (I tried going to Google’s homepage and it wouldn’t load at all). Since I have no connectivity at home — I forgot to mention, there is no cell service either — when I leave work for the day, I am leaving a lot behind.

Off and on, I dealt with bouts of anger and frustration at not having my phone hooked up yet. The phone company that serves this area — there is only one — is appalling. With no competition, they have really let their maintenance department slide. Suffice it to say, the delays and excuses have been astounding. Yesterday, I decided that I wasn’t going to be mad about it any more. Everything else about my life is great; I don’t want to let that one thing mess up the rest. So, I am feeling happier and more at-ease about that.

The atmosphere at my unconnected place is interesting. Pleasant. Peaceful. There are no interruptions and no outside influences that my roommate and I don’t specifically invite in. We listen to the radio a fair bit; there are only two stations up here, and we usually listen to CBC North. We also listen to music, and enjoy introducing each other to our favourite artists and songs. We were both in bands of our own in the past, and it’s fun to relate our own experiences with music and performing. Last night, we sat for a couple of hours on the couch, relaxed, just chatting about music. There is no TV to invade our intentions, no internet to distract or phones to demand our attention. Sure, there are lots of times every day that I wish I could look up this or that online, or websites I miss visiting.

I thought I would miss connecting with my family and friends more, but I think that although we all need connection, but it doesn’t have to be with who we think. I am quite happy connecting with my roommie, and I have also made some new and unlikely friends here who I connect with, too. We make eye contact, we shake hands or hug, we have real conversations and a real connection. Having all the technology in the world doesn’t help us connect; it can help, but it can also be a huge distraction. Most tech is meant to help us connect over long distances, but we desperately need in-person connections, too. Without them, we wither and feel depressed.

Keep in mind, I am a natural introvert — I am not someone who “needs people,” yet I have found that I do. I am a thriving so much more this time in Wrigley than when I came in spring and didn’t have a roommate, neighbours or any after-work interactions. I didn’t have any tech connectivity then either, so I was completely alone after 4:30 pm each day. For safety reasons, I checked in using my SPOT device — one-way communication — with my boss and husband each night and morning. And I was fine, but I wasn’t exactly thriving. Luckily, I only lived that way for two weeks — I’m not sure what the long-term results of that experiment in isolation would have been. I blogged about my first impressions of Wrigley back in May here.

I wonder how different the world would be if everyone made one non-friend connection each day. Chatting with a stranger on the bus. Making eye contact with another person in line at the grocery store. Smiling at an acquaintance for no reason. Patting a coworker on the arm. I think that we might not be as dependent on our spouses and closest friends to provide our every need when it comes to connection. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that connecting with our loved ones makes us happy; we individually make ourselves happy. It’s not up to anyone else — or technology — to do it for us.

Top 10 Modern Products I Can Live Without

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Time for another top-ten!

Top 10 Modern Products I Can — and Do — Live Without!

Some of these things I consider scams, and others are just things I have left out of my life for simplicity’s sake.

10. A Coffee Maker. Yup, don’t have one. We have a one-cup-at-a-time funnel brewer thingy, and we have a bodum if we are making for more than one person at a time. Lots of people have those Keurig machines — I use the one at the fire hall and it’s great — but I can live without it! Our main reason for no coffee maker is to save on counter space.

9. Workout machines. You know, the Bowflex, the Ab Circle, Leg Magic, Vibraslim, Stairmaster, treadmills, ellipticals, etc… I’ve been doing crossfit workouts, and most of it is basic weights, using your own body weight (like in push-ups or pull-ups), or doing things from sports. Getting out and doing real things with your body is the best!

8. Fancy fabrics. I’m talking about some of these ultra-thin wool undergarments that cost $80 for a shirt. Or sweat-wicking workout clothes… an old T-shirt works just fine. Unless you are climbing Mt. Everest, I think most of these fabrics and clothes are a scam (and some don’t even look like they are made all that well).

7. Make-up. Although I own a little bit of make-up, I only use it a few times a year. Last time I wore mascara, I regretted it — I got a paint-covered eyelash in my eye and it wouldn’t come out for 3 days! And do I look ugly? No. My skin is as nice as ever, mostly due to what I eat.

6. Video Games (like Wii, Nintendo, whatever). I know, by now you think I am a total freak, but hey! I have never owned one of these, and somehow I have lived. I play games on my computer or online sometimes, but I just never got into these plugged-into-my-TV games.

5. Microwave. While we actually do own one, we only use it to warm up our wheat bags when we need a little heat on our feet (or wherever). We don’t use it to irradiate our food. Not that that’s bad exactly… we’re just keeping it real! And you can re-heat and cook everything better using other methods, like the oven, stove and barbeque.

4. Satellite dish. I don’t like TV, so I don’t have any. Don’t have cable either, so if we want to watch something, we use DVDs or stream it over the internet. So it’s not that I’m a techno-phobe, I just have no interest in TV, and especially dislike commercials.

3. iPhone. I don’t have one, and you know what? My life is not terrible! :) I might get one, someday, but for now, my simple cell phone does the trick just fine.

2. Orthotics. I used to have them, then I didn’t. I massaged the arches of my feet with a tennis ball and switched to Vibram 5-Fingers (basically, the opposite of orthotics) and I couldn’t be happier. NO foot pain, more foot stability, and no problems (granted, I don’t wear high heels anymore). :)

1. Tooth paste. You can get tooth paste with baking soda, or… you could just use baking soda!! Baking soda really works every bit as well as tooth paste, and you can skip the nasty chemicals in most tooth pastes!

So, this post is not intended to make you feel guilty or make me look weird. It’s just the way I feel about some modern devices, and maybe it will make you think differently about them too! :)

P.S. Can you believe this is my 300th post on this blog!?! And I started over 6 years ago? Crazy! If you’re new to my blog, welcome! Feel free to browse the archives or use the tag cloud at right for topics you are interested in! :)