Technology Time Out
My husband and I are both from Massachusetts, but we met in New Hampshire, where his family owned a home. Turning off the main street, you ventured approximately one thousand feet along a narrow dirt road that led to six houses situated on gorgeous lakefront property. We rented from his cousin, who was located two doors down. It was the summer of ’77, and we were 11 years old. We’ve known each other for 40 years and have been married for 27. Nice love story, huh? But that was just background information. Keep reading.
Twenty years ago, his parents sold their home. This summer, we returned to the lake to reminisce and enjoy family time. Our childhood friend Andrea, who lived next door to my husband, happened to be visiting from North Carolina. We recounted tales from the past, how we braved the sting of mosquitoes to swim at night when the lake seemed black and foreboding, and treading water was the only way to ensure something wasn’t going to grab you from below the surface. We constructed stories about lions and tigers and bears while running down the dirt road giving each other heart attacks. We spent our days swimming, fishing and boating, and lived in each other’s pockets. We were on a beautiful lake, with lots of kids and lots of commotion. Our parents didn’t own iPhones with location trackers or text messaging. They knew they’d see us eventually, and that was good enough. One landline was connected to two cottages, for emergencies only. Keeping in touch with your friends meant walking into town and buying a 10¢ postcard that arrived to your friend around the same time vacation was over. WBLM 107.5 offered the most promising static free music, as long as you turned the dial at a slow pace, easing into the station. My husband had a TV with two knobs and bunny antennas. Maneuvering the antennas just so allotted us a snowy viewing of the Six Million Dollar Man.
The summer of 1976, right before our two-week vacation, my sister and I ordered the Monkees Greatest Hits. No Amazon prime or free overnight shipping on $50, no email notifications that our packages were at our doorstep. We lived in the dark, anticipating that our albums would be sitting on our porch when we got home. We squealed as only teenage girls can at the sight of the brown delivery boxes on our porch. I tore open the cardboard and held up the album like Mufasa did to Simba in the Lion King. Darting to my room at warp speed, I removed the plastic wrap and slid out the crisp record. Clean scratch free vinyl with visible grooves, one for each song. I turned on my record player, navigated the needle, and listened (not in stereo) to The Monkees. I would eventually wear the album out, scratching it accidentally while trying to find the exact spot on a song that I wanted to hear over and over so I could memorize the words.
I have often thought about that night, when my sister and I blared the Monkees in unison. We danced, we sang, we celebrated to Daydream Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday. We didn’t post it or Instagram or Snapchat the memory, yet it remains clear in my mind.
An avid fan of technology, I’ll admit to having anxiety without a cell phone in my hand. Free two-day shipping? Yes, please. Yet, I can’t help but feel a loss over the fact that the future of technology has stolen something precious – the lesson of patience and the art of being/living in the moment. We’ve lost the opportunity to experience anything other than immediate gratification. There’s something to be said for anticipation, for foregoing photo ops to enjoy a Facebook free moment. Imagine getting lost without a phone, being unable to track something or someone. Now, imagine doing that by a lake, an ocean, a park, your backyard, a quiet room. Go ahead, take a deep breath and a technology break, and embrace the moment.