In 2017 I did a 3 day backpacking trip across the Grand Canyon. We started at the North Rim and hiked to the bottom of the canyon, across a suspension bridge over the Colorado River and hiked up the other side to the South Rim. It was a memorable trip that I will never forget. Especially the last 3 hours.
As you can imagine, cell phone reception in the canyon is non-existent, so we were totally off the grid, which is always fine with me. Three days without the distractions and technology was a welcome treat. All my smartphone was good for during that time was taking picture. No email, no notifications, no bombardment of the world’s affairs continually clamoring for my attention. It was great! Everyone on the trip seemed fully engaged in the hike and on enjoying the surroundings.
However, with about 3 hours left of our trip, people began checking their phones for coverage and, realizing they had it, they began checking email, getting on social media, and seeing what had been going on in the world for the last 3 days. I could tell that people were already distracted from the hike by concerns of next week’s schedule, the US decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, and other details of everyday life.
I left my phone in airplane mode, wanting to enjoy every last minute of solitude and natural beauty this hike still had to offer. I wanted to yell to the others in the party, “Put your phones away and be alive in what we’re experiencing! All those things will be waiting for you when we get to the rim, but who knows when you’ll have an experience like this again! Don’t waste it!”
I love technology. I even work in IT, so I’m surrounded by it every day. Yet for me, I think there are times when technology can detract from an experience. It’s at these times when I decide to voluntarily take myself off the grid in order to remove distractions that would lessen my experience.
So how about you? Would you benefit from voluntary venturing off the grid?