The weekend is coming and I can’t wait. After returning from Africa on Monday, re-entry has been difficult, due in part to jet lag, but also because I really enjoyed my time off the grid. Going dark for days on end was really an unadulterated pleasure.
There was no Internet in Kenya and Tanzania for hours, and in a couple of cases for days on end.
More than anything, it was a relief. I missed my friends and some of their wonkiness, but I did not miss the grind of the social media industry. The need to be present and engaged disappeared. So did having to create content to fuel the beast (I ran reruns).
I got used to not checking in, not seeing what was going on, and not getting caught into little eddies of first world problems.
While I don’t think atypical portrayals of African suffering are accurate nor appropriate for the purposes of this post, I witnessed a base level of living there. Most people just want to work hard or find work so they can get a solar panel and little bit of electricity in their lives. That way they can enjoy the evening hours with their family.
When you see life in countries like Kenya and Tanzania, the online world loses relevancy. I know the online propels my day-to-day business, but I gained an understanding of what matters from a different perspective. It became easier to let go for that twelve day period.
When we returned to the Wildlife Works office periodically, I did my business (mostly posting pics from the trip for Audi) and shared a little bit of Africa. Then it was back into this amazing, different and untethered world.
I could breathe again.
The Luxury of Going Dark
Going off the grid is becoming a common experience for the digital citizen. Many view going off the grid as a welcome experience, a refreshing get-away.
Escaping the wired world is rarely practical. Beyond the technical difficulties, after a while you become a loner.
Instead, it seems that going off the grid is a fantasy and a luxury. Perhaps a more realistic view of digital darkness is to consider it a means of rest and relaxation from the always on world of smart devices, smartphones and tablets.
There are more and morevacation opportunities for those seeking an unplugged break. Conde Nast calls these vacations digital detoxes.
I can definitely relate. Returning to the United States also brought a return to our always on world. And it is intense.
Escape is a luxury that one needs to pay for, like enjoying a great steak. At the same time, that very same escape is difficult for those that make their living off of digital media. It’s a difficult scenario. You come to understand the relevancy (or lack there of) online media, and yet you cannot leave it behind. Not for long.