Unplug: How West ‘By God’ Virginia helped me (proudly) admit an addiction

Iphone_4GI never realized that I had become a technology junkie until last weekend. For the long Independence Day holiday, I went to see friends in almost West, BY God, Virginia.  (It actually is on the Virginia side but close enough to West Virginia that I get to use that line for fun. And if you don’t know why it is called West By God Virginia, check it out on Google.)  Their farm is beautiful with a small river running through the property.  With more than 100 acres, it allows for skeet shooting, trailblazing, deer hunting (in the right season), river tubing, kayaking, and every lawn sport one can imagine.

So, in this idyllic place, there is no television, almost no phone reception, and only WiFi in the main house, which is not powerful enough to do streaming video on your iPad or computer.  I thought it would be a perfect separation from the real world.  Wrong!  I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

What?  No live news with minute-by-minute repetition of the last four hours of anything – a trial, revolution, a traitor/hero –depending on one’s view – wandering lost among an airport (can’t wait for this movie), NOTHING.  No way for me to know if the world was coming to an end or not.  It was a shock to my system – not necessarily bad, but still a shock.

Image via commons.wikipedia.org

Image via commons.wikipedia.org

Now for those of you under 30, you don’t remember tiny TVs with only four channels and only half an hour of national/international news a day in the evening.  There were no cellphones, emails, voicemails, or texts.  You had to write a letter.  (Heavens above, you even had to use beautiful handwriting to RSVP to weddings – no blank to check by attending or not attending on a return card.) You had to pick up the phone and call someone, and if there was no answer, call back until a warm body picked up the handset. The thought of portable phones not connected to a line run into your house by the one company that did phones in your neighborhood was a science fiction theory. We didn’t have heated seats in our cars, no Wikipedia or Wikileaks.

I do remember those things and suddenly I was thrown back into those memories.  It was good for three days.  It made me think on my own and enjoy the outdoors.  It forced all of the humans to spend time face-to-face and not glued in front of a boob tube.  It was great – for three days.  The journalist who went off Facebook, Twitter, email and texting for a month, now has my sympathy.  I am an addict – and fully admit it!  Occasional respite is good for the soul, but oh how I’d hate for the entire Internet and mobile world to collapse.  So please, terrorists, don’t blow up our nice communications world.  I don’t like the fact that I can be tracked 24/7 because of these “toys,” but they are no longer “toys” to me – my mobile phone, computer, and iPad have become part of my life and I fully admit I am addicted.

Just so you don’t think I am a complete tech freak, let me assure you I can barely use all these gadgets anywhere near their capabilities.  I turn them off for movies and dinner and I still have human friends with whom I have real conversations and do not text someone who is in the next room – yet. I now appreciate them more than I did before and am thrilled that I can have them with me!

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