When you hear something three times, it no longer sounds like a coincidence and it gets your attention.
What I’ve heard at least three times this holiday season, as people — including at least one hard-core tech head — left for family gatherings or beach vacations or cruises, was: “I’m not taking my computer.” Often followed by, “And I won’t get a phone signal.”
Have you heard this? Or maybe even said it?
Vacation has, at last, become a getaway from electronics and virtual worlds and incessant, obsessive non-face-to-face communication. We now take our refreshment in what the tech heads used to contemptuously call “meat world”: the old world of the senses, movement, handclasps, facial expressions. Electronic communication and information sharing is a life-changing, world-changing marvel, but it also has severe limitations — sensory, social, emotional — and we’ve hit that wall. Enthrallment has turned to humdrum and even harassment. Screens are, finally, flat, and they can make you feel for all the world like a transfer ironed onto a T-shirt.
I think this is a good thing, in that it restores a sense of proportion and of appreciation for poor old jilted reality. I’m not suggesting that people should throw away their computers (I’m writing this on a computer), only that it’s a good sign that we can get sick of them.
(Another of the biggest tech heads I know — a professional in the field — got off the plane back from a conference on digital publishing and left his iPad in the back-of-seat pocket.)