Disconnect

Dear Janette,

I cannot believe I am sitting here writing with just a paper and pen. Pen! Like a savage. I suppose though, if it’s for the sake of my sanity, I must. It’s been a whole week now and I haven’t so much as heard the news on radio. The whole retreat is practically Amish. There’s no internet, no cable, there’s not even electricity in any of the public areas in case anyone snuck in a cell phone and a charger. The first few days have been rough, I woke several times in the night, reached for my ringing phone only to realize there it’s not there. In the mornings I would search the room frantically, trying to find something, never finding what I was looking for. Eventually I’d sit down to breakfast, with a sinking feeling of dread and terror, like a piece of me was gone. By day three I realized I was looking for my laptop.

The addiction is more spread than we thought. Everybody here has the same story, careers that can live and die by a call or an email. Then one day they’re in a basement or a state park with no signal and suddenly they snap. Have you heard about my meltdown at the Cherokee conference? The internet in the whole area was out for three hours. I’m sure the rumor mill has really blown it out of proportion but basically yes I did throw a totem poll out of the window. Well I tried, but those are really heavy and the window was much further than I thought. The shakes have finally passed and I stopped pulling out my hair. A connectivity addiction isn’t so bad to get over. Once you make the leap to accepting the world goes on without you, it all becomes much easier to handle. Not like consumption addicts. All they do is take in content, rather than add to it. Their whole lifes revolve around absorbing information. It’s related to hoarding they say. I’m lucky I’m not recovering from tv addiction. Full rehab for them. They either completely emaciated and have to go through extensive physical therapy to reclaim some semblance of muscle tone; otherwise they’re so over weight that they can’t even lift their own limbs and need machines to exercise them for them.

What’s scariest is the idea of leaving this place. How can we cope? An alcoholic can avoid bars, a drug addict just has to stay away from users. But how can I not relapse when the Internet is everywhere? I can’t simply get rid of my phone, and throw away my wireless card. At some point I’m going to need to book a flight or at least check my work email. It’s a business requirement in this modern age. How can they expect me not to relapse when I know, soon as I get off this god forsaken island, they are going to put an iPad and a Blackberry in my hands?

Well, time to sign off. They want us to go canoeing so we can get bit by mosquitos and talk about how good it is to be disconnected.

-Cheryl

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