Thursday, October 16, 2008

Going off the grid -- the personal cost

Yesterday I talked about going off the grid. So what does no Internet access mean personally?

Well, to me it means being cut off from friends and family. Sure, I have my cell phone, but it's not the same. The updates I receive from social media sites like Twitter are a passive and simple way to keep in touch without conversation. The Twitter feed gives me brief snapshots of how everyone's going through their day, providing quick insights and -- through links -- interesting and informative information to further explore.

I'm not much of a Facebook person, but there will be posts that will go unanswered for the next few days. Of course, I won't know about them, so it won't be too bad. Sometimes it's good to just step away from the monitor.

Personal e-mails will go unanswered, but that's OK. Professional e-mails get responded to within 24 hours. Personal ones usually aren't that time sensitive anyway.

Our motel room has broadcast TV access only -- no cable. I won't be able to check the BBC like I'm used to for news, nor visit any of the other online news sources that keep me up to date. I'll have to rely on whatever the Fox43 news team chooses to show me, and the Intelligencer Journal decides to print. That's not too bad -- it gives me insight on what folks across the digital divide experience everyday.

And on the plus side, Dad and I will have a lot of quality time without interruption. And that's what I value most about these trips. I've heard family stories I've never heard before, gained some insight into Dad's life, and what events shaped his personality. And we've had a lot of conversations that, quite frankly, don't lend themselves to 140-character posts.

- Ralph

Day 121 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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