Thursday, June 4, 2009

Screw the flowers; where have all the vacations gone?

So this technology thing, in case you haven't noticed, is pretty much everywhere. It is so much everywhere that it really feels like I just can't get away from it. Some of that is technology's fault, and some of that is my fault. When I leave the house I could just leave my cell phone behind - but what if my mom called to chat, or work called because a customer needed their service turned back on immediately, or the president called because I was the human race's last hope to save the Earth from mutant alien Nazi bikers from nebula 99?

For a very short time I had the opportunity to have a "remote" job, which essentially means I work from home. But thanks to my laptop if I so chose I could also work at a coffee shop or tea house. The laundromat I go to has wi-fi access for fuck's sake. I could do laundry and work at the same time. I could go into the bathroom at the laundromat and take a dump while my clothes are washing and continue to work. It's a multitasker's wet dream. That got me thinking that if I got one of those fancy network cards STOP! side bar - I just saw a Klondike Bar commercial in which a very hairy man got his pubic hair waxed....

That got me thinking if I got one of those fancy internet cards that jam into the side of my laptop I could work from anywhere at all. How exciting! I could just go to the zoo and sit next to the lily pond and work all day. How peaceful and techno-yoga. At first it seems like a wonderful setup. No waking up extra early and dragging my tired self into a cold an heartless office. I can literally wake up, turn my computer on, and start working. And I sleep naked. How quickly I realized how terrible it actually is.

Sometimes I like being alone. Sometimes I need to be isolated. Sometimes I need an damn escape. With recent advances in technology it is becoming harder and harder to get the fuck away from the world. Badder news is that it is only going to get worse. The number of places in the world you can go and not be connected to the grid is shrinking at an alarming rate. That coupled with my misguided work ethic basically means that no matter where I would normally go in the world, including on vacation, I can always be in touch with work 24/7. And I would check in on work too. It's happened before. Again, I could just leave my phone and/or laptop behind but it is actually difficult for me to do that. I have to fight my predilection for the need to feel available at all times, and it isn't an easy battle for me.

When I was a kid my family would go to the Adirondack Mountains every summer. We would rent a cabin for a week at this little camp/resort called Brynilsen's Viking Village. There were no TVs, there was only 1 phone in the whole resort, and there sure as shit weren't any computers. I remember one summer there was a family that stayed at the camp and they brought a TV and VCR with them. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time and I remember thinking how stupid it was for them to do that. Why in the fuck (I started swearing at an early age) would you want to sit in your cabin and watch TV when you could go swimming or climb a mountain or go into town and visit all the little touristy curio shops or play cards or run off into the forest to find big pieces of fungus growing off of trees that you can draw pictures on? I remember being pissed off when the nearest big town got a McDonalds. I wouldn't be surprised if the camp had it's own internet cafe cabin at this point.

I just want a vacation. A real vacation. Not a trip back home to Buffalo where we have to run around and visit family and friends, not a staycation where me and the wife get a hotel room for the weekend in the city, not a 1 day trip to Wisconsin Dells. I want at least a week of just me and the wife and dog off somewhere with no threat of being interrupted by phone calls or emails. I'll make it happen somehow. And you should to - except you'll need to get your own wife and dog.


Chris Othic said...

I agree 100 percent. I never had a cell phone until four years ago, now when I leave the house without it I feel a little panicky. I lived without one for 36 years!

The problem with today's technology is that not only are you connected to everything, but everything is connected to you.

viking villager said...

I've been going to Brynilsen's (camp) since 1965 when I was a baby. Now I bring my kids. Still one TV in the hotel kitchen and one phone. Cell phone service requires borrowing the one person at camp's phone that works, standing at the end of the dock on one leg pointed toward the island. We still swim, hike, drink, sit and read and eat donuts. You'll be happy to know -- no internet cafe (although there is one in Old Forge).

Crump said...

Hooray Viking Villager! I'm a not only super happy to hear that there is the 1 tv and 1 phone system still going strong, but that the camp is still there and working. I swung by there quickly about 8 or so years ago and haven't been able to get back. And I haven't actually vacationed there since Rolf and Jan sold the place. I have always promised myself that I'll get back there for a week or two. It's even harder now that I'm in Chicago. Maybe finally this summer.

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