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The Desert of the Real: Traveling in a Hyper-Connected World

As I write these words, I am sitting in a bus, traveling from NYC to Washington, D.C., and I am still connected to the Internet. For someone who doesn't have a smart phone, an iPad, or any other means of constant connected-ness, this is simply mind-blowing. Those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world could choose to never get off the grid, take the Red pill, or go back through the looking-glass. We can be everlastingly linked to a physically nonexistent universe of people and places and ideas, so real in their own way that, when we tune in and drop out, it's easy to forget that we actually inhabit another plane of existence.

Do I sound paranoid enough to you yet? I do feel like Neo sometimes, my favorite modern hero. Like him, I occasionally feel that something is off with this virtual world so full of the promise of boundless knowledge. Because when you lose yourself in this unknowingly vast web of information, you lose something else, too: your life. The real and present moment slips by unnoticed, and you wake up to reality hours later, having passed that unrecoverable time in what most likely was mindless surfing.

So, I guess there's a reason I'm not better connected. In fact, I'm a veritable dinosaur in technology terms: I prefer to lug around my tiny old notebook and pen for those random moments of inspiration, and while I'm pretty much never without access to music and movies and TV shows with my iPod (the 2005 version, pre-touchscreens), I can't bring myself to give up the very visceral pleasure of picking up a real book (I also still check out books from libraries. Remember those?).

I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, and there is definitely something to be said for having immediate access to information and other people (I doubt the Arab Spring would have been possible without Twitter and Facebook). But I'll remain one of the un-plugged, living in the desert of the real, enjoying every last voyage as I travel and every last bite as I eat, in real-time.

Yours truly, one byte at a time,

Radina

(Get it? "Byte"? Like megabyte? Just wanted to make sure.)

3 comments:

TatysDonya said...

heheh nice...I completely understand where you're coming from though, technology has both improved human life, knowledge and interaction as well as downsized it...it's a crazy phenomenon..hey I still go to the library too! But my level of patience has dwindled...good for you for unplugging Reo! (get it? radina, Neo...Reo? um...)

Anonymous said...

Very well said!! Speaking of getting lost in the virtual world: After reading your entry, I was looking around for a Facebook "like" button. Then i realized I better actually lift my lazy fingers and write.

-Sara

Radina Valova said...

Ha! That's funny, Sara :) Thanks for reading! (I get my "worlds" mixed up, too, though - like when I want to "undo" something I wrote or thought... Taty, I love it!

Reo, signing off.