Off the Grid

Meme. An image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations. I came across one of these memes recently that put things into perspective. It was a snapshot of 5 bicycles lying haphazardly on a piece of lawn in front of a house. The meme read: This was how we used to know where our friends were playing, implying that nowadays we use electronic communication to do the same thing. It also implies that before Facebook and Whatstapp, kids were more sociable and spent more time outdoors, doing physical exercise.

Today, most of us are permanently connected to the digital communication network in some form or other. From our mobile phones, laptops and even televisions, our attention is constantly in demand. Even kids are connected to the web via iPads from their early years. And it seems as if this trend is not declining…

So what do we do? How do we find balance for both our kids and ourselves in this digital maelstrom?

I had the fortunate opportunity to get off the grid last week and I highly recommend it. 11 of us converged on the Tsitsikama Nature Reserve near Plettenburg Bay in South Africa. It’s an incredible part of the world teeming with wildlife, freshly flowing rivers and thick, indigenous forest. We set out on a 5-day hike called The Otter Trail, along the coast, stopping at wooden huts each day to rest our aching muscles. The best part of all of this, is that there’s no reception. Nada. One if my mates that was with us runs a mobile business. He confessed that he had not disconnected for 15 years! You can just imagine how liberated he felt!

I believe that it’s vitally important to regularly disconnect from the digital world in order to break the pattern of confinement that we often finds ourselves in. This experience gave us all the opportunity to really appreciate nature, each other and life in general. It helped many of us reflect on ourselves and those around us. For some, it was a life-changing experience that I’m certain will create positive change to the way in which we conduct our lives going forward. Whether it’s diet, exercise or an overall awareness of our actions in the real world, even the smallest change creates a ripple that impacts on our immediate environment.

The lesson? Get out more. Explore this beautiful planet we call home. Disconnect from the Grid.

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2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Toby Shenker says:

    Richard – We can blame it on Steve Jobs, who claimed that he created products we didn’t know we needed. It’s only when we find a way of escaping from it all that we are able to literally “see the wood for the trees”, and work out what we REALLY need! It’s the simple pleasures in life, like the camaraderie between friends and interactions with real people who mean something, that bring happiness….

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Richard Gradner says:

      Toby – yes Steve Jobs and others like him are to blame for our complete dependency on digital communication, but aside from the negatives, think of the advancements we have made as a result. The irony is that even someone like Steve Jobs had strict boundaries – he forbade the use of iPads for his kids when they were growing up!

      Reply

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