Unplugging Blah Blah Blah
You know what’s been chafing my nerves lately? (If you thought “her inner thighs,” you’d be right but my lack of attention to pilates is none of your concern at the moment, thank you very much.)
No, it’s the surplus of travel articles in which the author decides to boldly go into the deep blue yonder without access to a smart phone and/or other electronic devices. God, am I sick of this!
The most recent article I read on the subject was Unplugging in Chicago. Nancy leaves her beloved BlackBerry in the hands of the hotel staff and finds that, lo and behold, she can find good and unique information by actually talking (gasp!) to local people and to those who are actually in the tourism business. A particularly disheartening part of this story is when this seasoned (and good!) travel writer admits that because she doesn’t have her device, she stops to admire Chicago’s famed architecture and that her trip to an art museum is heightened. It makes me think, what is she and therefore I, the reader, usually missing in Nancy’s travels and subsequent stories when she is glued to her BlackBerry, as is typically the case, according to her? To my mind, engaging in conversation and appreciating your surroundings in the moment are meaningful and rewarding parts of travel – be it to the town an hour from your house or a metropolis halfway around the world. Why does this come as a surprise to these writers?
Some of the writers act as if they’re Cristobal Colon – discovering new frontiers – when in fact, 1. This is how most of the world travels; and 2. This is how everyone traveled up until a few years ago. Get a grip: You are not as adventurous as you make yourself out to be in this case.
Of course, I agree that traveling without the iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid, etc. is a good idea and in fact wrote about this two years ago but this was before the dearth of smart phones and travel apps made having a phone not just a way to connect to folks back home but a way to completely disengage with your actual surroundings. (Local and mindful travel enthusiasts have been blogging about this for a while now – see them here, here, and especially here…)
But can we just ask editors to stop requesting these “cutting-edge” stories in which we are subject to the CrackBerry withdrawal symptoms and the Double Rainbow Epiphanies? Can it stop, please?