6 comments on “Disconnected!

  1. My cell phone died while I was on the Long Trail. Unfortunately, I found out when trying to call my wife to tell her that our rendezvous location (for my mid-hike zero day) had to change. Luckily, I discovered (to my surprise) that pay phones still exist.

  2. I haven’t noticed pay phones in years… but I wonder if that’s just because they’ve become invisible. I had to use them frequently on the AT, before I had a working cell phone. And speaking of the Long Trail, Vermont’s mountains have strangely horrible cell reception. Which is great! Unless you’re trying to set up that rendez-vous.

  3. “the phone is just a tool. The tool isn’t the problem, it’s the people who let themselves be owned by it.”

    I generally agree with that statement but not all tools are the same. Most people aren’t addicted to their multipurpose crescent wrench.

    When the tool is psychologically addictive, in this case a phone, every use reinforces the addiction and it is designed to be that way. Telling people not to let their phone own them is like telling a heroin addict to just stop.

    That being said, I agree with the premise of this article. I just think we as a civilization need to reconsider how we design the user interface of our phones and work towards building a less addictive tool if we have any hope of creating real change.

  4. I agree that phones, computers, video games, etc are way more habit-forming than older tools of the more hardware variety, but I think the addiction is more easily comparable to gambling or similar behaviors than to, say, heroin and other substances. But even with addictive substances, people do stop. It’s not as simple as flicking a switch, but it happens.

    As for a developer creating a less addictive tool, the financial incentive is for quite the opposite. In this case, I’d have to say the onus is on the users. It’s good that we have so much wilderness available to us, but the important thing will be to convince more and more people of its value.

  5. Really interesting finds Ryan. I’ve heard a number of things about “technology addiction” and most recently heard a speaker at an innovation symposium talking about this and how it affects our ways of human interaction and of dealing with the world in general. Pretty eye opening. Here’s the summary of the talk. The video should be posted in another week or so. http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/stories/reaching-beyond-technology-embracing-boring-bits

    What I hadn’t heard before was the angle on hiking (or being in the wilderness) making you smarter. I like it! It really does make sense too. I know that I am completely addicted to technology (I feel like I should be standing up and saying “Hi, I’m Mark and I’m a technoholic”). I don’t want to give it up, but I also recognize the effect that it has. Giving up technology (at least mostly) while on the trail is a good goal. There are times that I really still appreciate it, but it is also a great distraction. How much do we miss around us if we’re staring at the GPS blip or taking iPhone photos and posting them on Facebook (guilty on all counts). When we were in Baxter this summer I had to involuntarily give up technology for a week (other than for a couple of hours when we went into town one day). I thought that I’d really miss it, but I actually didn’t. I think there was something about knowing that it wasn’t even an option that made it easier to give up.

    Oh, by the way – I used the Guthook Guide at Monadnock on my new iPhone 5 for the first time yesterday. I really like the app. Guess I have to give it up if I want to get smarter out there though. 😉


  6. Cool to hear about that talk you attended. I’m glad the topic is widely discussed 🙂

    I also play around with the GPS too much on the trail these days, but I think you bring up a good point– it’s possible to find that happy medium between too much use and giving up the technology entirely. In some ways, as the intro to the talk you linked to mentions, the technology can even add to the conversations and enjoyment you get. On the other hand, at least you got that involuntary week without in Baxter. Isn’t it crazy how little you miss the tech? For me, it’s the re-connecting that hurts the most.

    However all of the disconnecting goes, I find it’s a really fun and rewarding exercise. If you just see how long you can go without using the tools you have, you start to forget you ever “needed” them.

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