Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Retreat From Technology

At an event in New York City last week, a friend and I got into a conversation with someone about the ongoing obsession with all things pertaining to technology. We are unable to get away from our computers, iPods, iPads, and anything else that allows us to communicate, view, and share information instantly to anyone. While the three of us agreed that we cannot go without our cell phones and Internet access, especially when living in a world that is constantly changing and demands us to change with it, we also expressed our desire to not be dependent on technology like a drug. I thought about it carefully, and decided to take some action.

I would hate to be a slave to anything, and technology is high on the list of things I refuse to be enslaved by. After careful consideration, I decided to designate most of every Sunday as my technology–free retreat day. I realize I can easily keep my phone turned off and abstain from my computer for most of the day once a week, and Sunday is my day to do it. I know that many of us cannot fathom the idea of doing this, but I look forward to a time when I can just get away from all screens big and small to see the world for myself.

Call me old fashioned; I don’t care. I am nostalgic for the days when children went outside to play, rather than stay indoors to become sedentary. When I taught English in Indonesia to children from wealthy backgrounds, I asked if any of them go outside to play after school or on weekends; they looked at me as if I was an alien from another planet. I helped arrange outdoor activities near the end of my tenure at the school, which was a revelation to them and to me. Getting them away from their cell phones, video games, and other technological accoutrements did not disable them from having fun, which pleasantly surprised them.

Could you take part in a technology-free retreat once a week?

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