Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vacation and Technology Ponderings

We recently spent two weeks at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Neither the husband nor I have ever spent two straight weeks in one place.  But this year everything seemed to fall into place to make that happen.  We are both now retired; we liked the rental house; it was available the following week; the weather was great; we had minimal commitments at home to cancel; we were able to get the mail delivery/paper delivery, medication, flower watering, etc. managed; and the owners gave us a last minute rental discount to stay another week.  So, we went for it.  And the experience of staying two straight weeks away from home brought some interesting thoughts to mind and some longing for the "old days".  For instance:
  • Two weeks was long enough.  We were both ready to come home by the end.
  • We noticed when we got home how very soft our carpet is.  I know that sounds funny.  And it wasn't like the carpet in the rental home was bad, but apparently ours is much softer and something we had never appreciated fully before.
  • A reversed floor plan (bedrooms downstairs) might be nice at the beach, but it makes for a lot of stair climbing throughout the day.
  • Dogs who swim in the sound daily begin to stink.
But, perhaps my biggest revelation was how very complicated technology has made our lives.  Disclaimer:  I'm about to rant.  In the old days, we got up, ate, showered, did some housework or went to work and that was it....our daily duties were done.  Our free time was free.  But now we add to the list:  check the email (maybe several accounts), the voice mail - on the home phone AND the cell phone, Facebook, blog updates and whatever other internet distractions we participate in.  And here's the thing....they follow you whenever you leave home.  Sure, you can unplug, and to some extent we do, but now if you have a cell phone or an email there is an expectation that you will respond no matter where you are just because the message can get to you.

It wasn't always this way.  Let's take a look back in time. It used to be that when you went away you told a few trusted neighbors where you were going and gave a general number (like the number at the resort or hotel where you were staying) to reach you.  In the small town where I grew up my father even told the police that we were going away so that they would "keep an eye" on the house.  And you were really away.  In fact one time we were staying in a cabin in a remote part of the state and my oldest sister needed to tell my father about a death in the family.  She called the State Police who drove up to the cabin, knocked on the door and told us to call home because there was an emergency.  We drove into town, found a pay phone and called her landline and she answered.  And when you did get home there was no answering machine to check, no emails to delete, no Facebook, blog or websites to catch up on.  And there was no backlog of TV shows to just missed them and waited for reruns. There were no pictures to download from your camera or rename and file on the computer so that someday you could find them again. 

My conclusion: technology is a two edged sword.  I love that it lets me keep up with extended family, pay bills fast, and I really do enjoy the blogosphere.  I like that I can Facetime with my granddaughter when we are apart for awhile.  And our spontaneous extra week of vacation would have been much more difficult to pull off without the wonders of the Internet.  But keeping technology in it's place takes a real conscious effort.  I guess that's why I played blog hooky last month.

 I just needed to remember a simpler time.



  1. Your photo makes me want to take a trip to the ocean, Nina. In fact, we've talked about it, so maybe sometime later this summer after the crowds are gone....

    You must be about my age because I remember similar experiences before technology went with us everywhere. It's hard to imagine doing without it but sometimes I turn my back on all of it (except when I want to make a phone call) for a while.

    It sounds like you had a nice time in NC. Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

  2. computers are our comfort and our burden