I just returned from a week in Mexico, a wonderful time with my family where
we lived very simply - food, rest, physical fun. No TV, no movies, no
cell phones, no computers. Bright sunshine, beautiful beaches, very
friendly people wherever we went.
Then I came home to San Francisco and straight to the Web 2.0 Expo. The contrast has been a bit disorienting. I don't think it's a surprise that my one year old son learned to say "Hi" in Mexico - people actually greeted him there and interacted with him. Here in the conference, on the BART train, on the street, we are all in our own world. We are on our laptops, our phones, our iPods.
The keynote talks at the Expo underscored again and again an undeniable trend: there is an ever growing explosion of the use of consumer devices and connecting to the Internet. The vast scales of data and connections we are looking at are almost impossible to imagine. The whole world is "getting connected." And those of us at the Expo are generally very excited, and see lots of opportunities to make money and and to build things that lots and lots of people will use.
But I feel a sadness when I find myself in this environment. I feel like I am losing something. I watch myself "plug in," and I feel like I am actually losing connection. I crave the open sky, the deep stillness and power of the ocean, of the smiles of people who said "Hi" to my son.
David makes some excellent points in this post. I often find that I get tied up in the virtual world of blogs and technology and forget that the real world is the one that really matters. If my computer died tomorrow and I gave it all up to help Julie remodel houses, I don't think I would lose a whole lot. In fact, I think I would be more in touch with reality and would likely strengthen friendships, rather than confuse people when I talk to them about what I do.
A commentor on David's blog says:
I am glad you discovered, or rediscovered, the beauty of simple things. It happens to many people almost every year, after vacations.
This is why I try to take at least 2 months of vacation each year. I've been doing it for around 5 years and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon. Sure, I have lots of opportunities to work my ass off, make a bunch of money and store it away for later. But that's no way to live - I want to enjoy life now and every day going forward. Sure, I'm saving money for my retirement, but I don't see the point in working like mad in hopes it'll payoff someday. Some folks say "do it while your kids are young." I think that's bullshit - there's no excuse for being a bad parent at any time in their lives.