We Must Go

by Chris de Serres

I wonder how Thoreau would do it today.  Find a way to unplug.  I was reading an article today about the Hillary Clinton email scandal and found one fascinating sentence.

“Mr. Clinton, who does not use email, is almost absent in the battles happening beneath him…”

Who else doesn’t read emails?  Doesn’t Facebook.  Doesn’t Twitter.  Doesn’t do any of it.

Chris Nolan.  One of my favorite movie producers.

“I’ve never used email because I don’t find it would help me with anything I’m doing. I just couldn’t be bothered about it,” Nolan said.

Couldn’t be bothered about it.  He doesn’t use a smartphone either.  I want the kind of life built around not being bothered by it.

There are others out there who are able to control the impulse.  They use technology only to serve their purpose.  Nothing more.  The willpower of these individuals to do that.

For me, it’s like trying to eat a small corner of a candy bar.  It’s an impossible task.  Our brains are wired to consume it.  I am all-in, but I don’t want to be.  Mostly.

Just the other day I had to sit back and observe while my wife got really angry when she couldn’t find her phone.  When I realize I left my phone at home I feel this urge to immediate drive back and retrieve it.  I don’t need it, but I feel like I do.

Even in the mountains, I have a satellite phone which allows me to text and make calls.  It violates my own sacred edicts of isolation and my acceptance of risk.  There’s a chance I may die or have a horrible accident, and i’ve accepted that.

There is no ‘checking in’ with my family and friends.  There’s no temptation.  No access to Facebook and all the minutae.  It’s a violation yet it’s a compromise I make.

John Muir once wrote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Yet, we are redefining what that even means, to go.

Will our children understand what it means to go?  In the way we did?

How do Bill Clinton and Chris Nolan get by?  They sacrifice access for something else.  For focus and clarity.

I have to be honest, I love my IPhone but I hate it’s guts.  I hate it’s tentacles.  It’s seemingly necessity in my life.  I often think about that life that preceded my first purchase into this hyperconnected world.

I keep telling myself that I will figure out the right balance in my life but I rarely do.  If I only rearrange a few things.  No internet after 7pm.  No IPhone use while with the family.  Purge all the stupid video games on my devices.  Yet, the seduction makes us violate our own rules.

Children are great absorbers of information.  They digest everything but lack the ability to filter information.  Adults today are the children.  Always absorbing, with a filter that needs replacing.

We have access at all hours.  Are you old enough to remember when we didn’t?  Once upon a time, there were 3 television networks and the television literally shut off at midnight.  No programming until 6am the next morning.  That was glorious.

We need someone to tell us to go to bed.  To put that device down and drive.  To get off that tabloid website and write meaningful words.  To nurture our creative instincts.  Don’t drown it in distraction.

The mountains are calling and we must go, without our newsfeeds.