Unplugged

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.

2 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. The line “…take pictures to jog our memories when we’re old, not to impress friends and coworkers.” is gold man. I agree, I think we share to impress. And I think we waste hours on social media searching for photos, videos, quotes, inspiration, etc for validation of what we really want. Yeah, there is entertainment value in watching the adventure films and reading the Tony Robbins quotes, but what we are really doing is that we are looking for something external to let us know that it’s okay to want to do those things. I know for me, I can sometimes spend an hour watching motivational-pump-me-the-hell-up videos when I know deep down that I already have those words and motivation within.

    But in society, it’s easier to “like” a scenic photo than it is to hike your ass off to take that photo. Once you hit the easy button in life, it’s hard to reverse. It’s so comfortable to sit back and watch. Sweat? I just showered!

    It’s people like you, that many look at and envy because deep down they want to do the same things. They just don’t because it’s too comfortable from where they are.

    • Joey – I think your comment is meaty enough to stand on its own as Part II of this rant. The easy button…yeah, there is one of those for every avenue of life, and pushing it and settling in for the ride comes with a lot of hidden, long-term consequences. Of course, so does living life balls to the wall with your hair on fire, but I’d rather live a lot for a little while than just exist for 90 years.

      Hunter Thompson said it well: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!'”

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