Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lord Help Me! I’m “Off The Grid!”

I found a really funny email in my inbox today. I got a message from the husband of an acquaintance of mine, apologizing to me on behalf of his wife because she had not responded to my emails. “She’s off the grid for a week,” he explained “and wants you to know that everything is okay.” Off the Grid! At first I felt sorry for her. It sounded to absolutely tragic—this being “off grid”. And then it made me laugh. I can’t wait to talk to her to find out exactly what she’s been up too. My friend is very “tuned in” so I imagine this was some type of spiritual retreat. Or, maybe she had given up “the grid” for Lent. My imagination is running wild with this one!

What the heck is “the grid?” Have we become so addicted to our electronic connections that we can’t even function without them? Do we periodically have to “check off the grid” for an extended period of time just to make sure we can deal with life? My friend, I am not trivializing your “off grid experience” and I really cannot wait to hear about it. But I am laughing hysterically at myself!

For the last 34.6 hours, I have been experiencing my own “off grid” experience accompanied by a mild anxiety attack. We’ve been having a lot of rain here in sunny southern California, and when that happens, we lose our cable and internet for extended periods of time (which in my world is anything over 45 minutes). Thank God, it was over the weekend and on a holiday so it didn’t affect our home school routine. That would have really sent me into a tail spin. But, I can tell you, I felt completely lost without my invisible connection to “the grid”. What was I missing? Who was trying to contact me? How many great posts had I missed on blogs that I follow? Would anyone remember me when I came back? Or worse, would anyone actually have missed me?

Thankfully, my “off grid” experience ended in 34.6 hours after many infuriating phone calls to “customer service.” But, I think it begs the question about the role of technology in our lives. Not only are we balancing the normal aspects of relationships, family, friends, health and career, and spirituality, but we are now in a constant struggle to balance technology. And within any single “connected family”, there are individual technology balancing struggles taking place. Not only do I have to monitor my own “grid addiction” but I have to monitor my children’s grid additions. Hopefully my husband can handle his, although I have often thought an intervention was appropriate for him.
I very clearly remember life before all this “grid mania”. It was simple and Rockwellian. You didn’t answer the phone during dinner. A secretary took your messages and you returned them when the time was right. And, people still wrote letters to each other. We controlled our time and the timing of our communication with people. We didn’t just respond to ill timed and unwanted incoming communication missiles. Now, I believe, the tables have turned. Who is in control? If we aren’t careful, “the grid” controls us!

The family dinner hour was hijacked by telemarketer’s years ago. This, I believe, opened the door. Today, cell phones interrupt dinner conversations and drivers focus on texting rather than driving. We no longer have “work time” and “family time”, because bosses and job demands can find us through “the grid.” We get more spam than we do legitimate, quality communication, and the art of having a good old fashioned face to face, heart to heart conversation seems to be lost! Replaced by the now preferred method of communication, “the grid”.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!!! And I really appreciate it in a home school environment. We have access to unbelievable information and with technology; we can take learning to a whole new level. Like many things, it requires moderation and balance.

But I wonder about the long term implications of our new preferred method of communication. Will our addition to “the grid” enhance or destroy us? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. More of us should stop and give this some thought. There isn't anyway we are going to stop technology, it seems to keep evolving and happening to us. We get so caught up in what to do with all the bells and whistles that it's hard to focus on the sense of it all.

    Unfortunately, the wave of technology that pours over us is not given the time to properly filter the poisons that are seeping through. With all this wonderful technology, and don't get me wrong, I love this stuff, it's just now, we're ending up being reactive instead of proactive when it comes to our children and their families online and offline safety.

    As part of the home schooling community, you are in a unique position to empower your children on being responsible cybercitizens, and learning how to be civil to one another online and proper technology etiquette.

    This is what my partner, Bill and I, do all day every day. We are all about children and their families safety, both online and offline. Nonetheless, the grid is here to stay, just like the Internet, social networking, and the new Net-Generation of humanity.

    I'm sure someone has come up with the idea for an off-the-grid get away resort - if not we need one.

    David C Ballard
    CyberHood Watch