For someone who spends most of her working life with people, who volunteers for farmers markets and other things with people, who teaches and mentors people, who loves being part of communities of people — for all of that, often, I just want to disappear.
That’s not as creepy or sad as it sounds, I promise.
I just finished reading an article in National Geographic called “Unplugging the Selfie Generation,” basically about how younger people (including, I think, my generation) largely don’t engage with national parks or nature in general — in part because it’s not as appealing to us, they argue, to “rough it” or to be somewhere non-digitally-connected.
Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I was struck by how astronomically far it is from my own experience and desire.
James and I were talking about this the other day, and I think he doesn’t quite get it either. (Ha! I’m a hard one to put up with;) I love — love — setting out on adventure, putting everything on auto reply, and unplugging completely for as long as I can possibly get away with it. I do not miss the news. I do not miss people’s updates on anything. I very rarely miss knowing what’s going on in the world. I do not feel antsy about all the emails that are potentially piling up. I do not feel like I’m missing out or slipping behind. I feel wholly present in what I’m doing and I’m glad that I don’t have the internet, a smartphone, or whatever else to drag me back to things far away from myself.
I do have a phone, a been-through-the-wars flip phone with no email or data or pictures, and I use it when I have reception to call James, to call my brother, to call my mom, to text friends I’ve been thinking of. Sometimes, when it’s been a few days without reception, I do start to feel antsy, in large part because I imagine people at home being worried about me. And I do miss people. Despite my latent hermitude, I actually do like people, I like to be involved in their lives, and I send a fairly staggering number of postcards to people I care about. But the ability to disengage from everything but the most important relationships, the temporary ability to turn off modern life, is one of THE things I love about the way I do bike travel.
And then I get home, and here is technology. I check my email. I update this blog. I post pictures. At first, I delete old emails with impunity and am always struck by how little, given the distance of a few days, is actually as important as I might have thought if I’d dealt with it immediately.
But as always, slowly, I get sucked back in. Despite being conscious of it, I still get sucked back into the media blitzkrieg in my own way, albeit probably much less intensely than most since at least I don’t have the whole facebook-twitter-instagram-conglomerate of platforms to tend. On the whole, I’m probably actually doing pretty well in terms of avoiding digital saturation. And I don’t mean to be wholly anti-technology, since I know I certainly reap many, many benefits of all this media always at my fingertips.
But today, even though I fairly recently got back, I feel like I want to disappear again. To set all my auto-replies and take off. Selfish, perhaps, in that it means that I deal with the world purely on my own terms rather than letting it push my course. But also so very tempting.
So one day if I totally disappear, you’ll know I’ve run off and become a hermit in the woods somewhere, the friendliest and most people-loving hermit you’ll ever meet. Don’t worry about it too much; once I realize that it’s only appealing as a temporary state I’ll be back;)