My husband and I have a dear retired friend who is essentially off the grid. You can’t reach her by email, nor does she own a cell phone. What she does have is a library card, and she’s a voracious reader. She’s also a caring friend to a handful of elderly women who otherwise would be alone. And she has time to write notes to friends near and far which she sends via snail mail. I’ve been the beneficiary of her thoughtfulness lately. She’s sent me sweet cards as I recover from some complications from spinal surgery.
Having just spent an hour wading through the day’s emails, there’s part of me that envies my friend. She’s a throwback to my childhood when there was no such thing as a computer or an iPhone. I don’t know that I was any happier in those days, but I did find it easier to concentrate, whether it was listening to a friend or writing a paper. I did not have to cope with the constant bombardment of endless ads, announcements, or messages sent to my inbox or Facebook feed.
Of course, I wouldn’t really choose to send my computer packing. It’s made research so much easier. As for writing, being able to cut, paste, or insert at the touch of a button feels downright miraculous! And it is lovely to stay in touch with far flung friends online.
My iPhone has also come in mighty handy, especially the directions app, since I can get lost absolutely anywhere. And being able to call my loved ones when I’m on the road is a huge benefit.
Still, I find myself wondering what we’ve lost, as well as what we’ve gained, in tethering so much of ourselves and our lives to a screen. Sometimes I think my friend who is essentially off the grid is on to something.