I get the feeling at some point during every foray into the wilderness. Sometimes I feel it only seconds after locking the car and shouldering my pack, and sometimes it hits me after a day or two of the simplistic routine of climbing, eating, sleeping, repeat. It’s the sudden feeling of relief at being completely and utterly unplugged from the modern world.
No texts or phone calls.
No work emails or electronic bills.
No Facebook news feed updates.
Without my smartphone, WiFi, or computer, existence is simplified. Communication is basic and happens the old fashioned way, and staying warm and dry is suddenly a much higher priority than checking Billy Bob’s FB status to see his half-masticated dinner from the night before.
I’m technologically inept – my brother will attest to that fact – so my social networking footprint was pretty small as it was. I don’t have a LinkedIn profile, Instagram account, or Twitter feed, and my friend list on FB was fairly modest (sub 200 and I knew every one of them personally).
Still, I found myself becoming disgusted with the amount of time and mental energy I squandered seeking out and viewing the picture and status updates of friends, family, and coworkers. Even more appalling was the realization that I was constantly in search of another great picture, adventure, or status update to post on my own wall…but why?
One of my favorite lines from the movie Fight Club comes from character Tyler Durden:
“Self-improvement is masturbation.”
Apparently it feels extra good if you take pictures of all that self-improvement and post it online for people who don’t actually give fuck all about your travels, adventures, CrossFit obsession, marketing scheme, imperceptibly pregnant belly, or half-consumed meal from an overpriced downtown eatery. But they’ll “like” your picture because you either A) recently gave one of their pictures that pathetic sign of virtual acceptance and approval or B) they’re hoping you do the same for them soon.
I know, I know, I’m acting the part of a cynic and an asshole. The perceptive reader will see through the caustic words and recognize that a large part of this rant stems from internal frustration at my willing participation in so primitive and base a pleasure for so many hours and days over the years.
So I’m out.
My job would have a real problem with me ditching email, and texts and calls are how a climbing bum lines up partners and a hopeless romantic maintains a constant stream of sappy messages back and forth with his girlfriend. But Facebook? Sorry not sorry, see you never again. I’ve rolled my eyes over your flexing selfie in the mirror, groaned about the endless stream of pregnant belly pictures, bitten my tongue because of your political or religious stupidity and obstinacy…all for the last time.
If you want to climb, let’s put away the damn camera and climb (safer that way anyway).
If you want to travel, let’s go somewhere amazing and take pictures to jog our memories when we’re old, not to impress friends and coworkers.
And if you want to talk, let’s actually talk…
…especially if there’s wine involved.