So it turns out that we really are addicted to technology. I should speak for myself. I admit that I am addicted to technology. I check in on Foursquare while waiting for my coffee at the coffee shop. I automatically sign into my e-mail when I get into the office in the morning. Twitter provides me with breaking news. I check my personal Facebook page, my professional Facebook page and update the temple Facebook page whenever I read something funny, serious, or profoundly disturbing on the Internet. My husband, Brent, and I have to ask each other to put our phones down when we share a meal together. It’s gotten pretty bad, or good if you trade Apple stock. Even with these admissions, I am sure there are people who are even more connected/addicted than me.
This was me before June 30th. On that fateful day Brent and I went on our belated honeymoon to Italy. Neither of us had ever been before and it was an amazing vacation. Before leaving, we talked quite a bit about what it would be like to completely disconnect for two weeks. At first, I was hesitant. My colleagues check and answer e-mails during vacation and I was wondering if that was expected of me too? I had also been working very hard with the help of Darim Online to create a wider Facebook presence for our congregation, what would happen if I was not there to update, “like,” and comment every day? As trivial as it all sounds, living in the technology-filled world in which we do, these were important questions. Without having the answers to the questions ahead of time, I turned off my data roaming and left my iPhone on airplane mode for two weeks. No text messages, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no New York Times…nothing.
When given the opportunity to have “nothing,” I found everything. Every sight, every train, every meal became something just for me. I did not have to share (other than with Brent). I was independent and happy, free from peeking eyes into our pictures, free from knowing what my friends were doing on Saturday night, free from the screen. I am not sure if it was because I was in a new and beautiful place or because I was sans cell phone, but I was truly relaxed. Being able to fully take in my surroundings gave me a new insight into who I am as a person living in a much larger world than my computer screen.
The last few days of our trip we spent relaxing on the beach in Monterosso del Mare
in the Cinque Terre. One morning during breakfast my heart started racing and I realized that it was only 48 more hours until I had to check my email again and return to regular life. That morning, over my cappuccino and coronetto, I decided that enough was enough. Facebook and Twitter were not going to rule my life anymore. Work and personal e-mail are necessary but they can have limits too. Since returning home just under a month ago, I am still trying to figure out what this new relationship with the Internet means. What I do know is that living life is way more important than pinning one more awesome recipe on Pinterest. Thank you, two weeks “radio silence.”
Rabbi Lisa Delson serves as Assistant Rabbi and Program Director at Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, Michigan.