Monday, August 13, 2012

Off the Grid

It has been 11 days since my last MSRP post, so it should come as no surprise that I took an unpublicized vacation.  The family and I enjoyed a few sun-soaked days at the beach in North Carolina where even a few bouts of rain were not enough to dampen the joy of not working.  As you Fin Fans are surely aware, “Weather is here, wish you were beautiful.”  I was mentally off the grid, and it was good.

Every day meant beach time, and every evening meant watching the XXX Games (the clean XXX Games, not the other kind featured after 11 PM nightly on Cinemax, check your local listings you pervert).  Sitting unplugged in front of the world class competition was freeing.  The half-naked athletes did all the work while I sat half naked drinking cold beer and room temperature aloe vera.  That required very little work from me, as it should be on vacation.  Carmelita Jeter had one heck of a six-pack, but my six-pack was pretty tasty in its own right.

My companions in the living room however were not content to sit idly in front of the Olympics and become part of the furniture.  They needed some juice.  They needed some spice, the kind of flavor you can only get with a reliable wi-fi connection.  They all sat in silence with their faces buried in their personal electronic devices while Phelps swam, Giffords danced, and Bolt bolted.  My daughter had her iPhone humming.  My son had his iTouch buzzing.  My wife had her iPad burning.  My brother and sister-in-law had their dueling pads crackling. 
In their defense, they were interacting with one another – silently, through words games that held no interest for me.  They were actually interacting with unseen others, too.  The multiple computer games were being fought in cyberspace with absent family members who were also not giving their full attention to the Olympics.  In effect, everyone else in the room was more interactive and social than I was staring at the one-directional TV screen.  My daughter could quietly text my brother-in-law that his word choice was pathetic, weak and only worth 12 points.  I could not let Bob Costas know in real time that his striped tie selection with his plaid shirt was offensive.  They were engaged in participatory behavior.  I was apparently lonely but didn’t know it.

This knowledge did not stop me from raising my nose in tipsy superiority at my family’s technological addictions on this particular vacation. 

I am certain that my parents would have condemned my insistence on staring at the TV during an evening of vacation when instead I could have been outside “doing something”.  Now the tables have turned, and I am condemning my family for “doing something” when they could instead be sitting with me staring at the TV “doing nothing”.  Am I the only one who understands what vacation is really all about?

Next year for the first time ever, the term “Internet Use Disorder” will appear in the index of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Based on my recent vacation, I will not be pictured in this medical volume above the caption “IUD Sufferer in his Natural Habitat”.  I cannot say the same for my poor family.

For their sake, I think they need to stop being slaves to these electronic devices and watch some TV with me, at least until Television Use Disorder becomes an official diagnosis.  That should happen right around the invention of Smell-a-vision.  

When Smell-a-vision is finally commercially available, that’s when I’ll skip the Summer Olympics on TV and get myself a smartphone.  Who wants to watch Olympic dressage on a Smell-a-vision?  If that’s a choice, I’ll happily challenge anyone to a friendly game of Words With Friends.   

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