As you saw in my recent fall foliage article, I was in the heart-stoppingly gorgeous middle-of-nowhere, New Hampshire for my birthday. Throughout the weekend, the theme of “unplugging” and “being cut off from civilization” recurred… in part because my husband‘s friend decided to live for 24 hours on a raft and boat.
Let us call this friend “Cory” to mask his identity. See that lake in the photo, above? See the raft forty feet from the shore with a boat tied to it? That’s where Cory lived and slept for over twenty-four hours. Yes, that is a BBQ grill on the raft. When you live on a pond for 24 hours, you must bring the essentials.
“Bring a sleeping bag when you drive up to New Hampshire,” Cory instructed my husband before the trip. “I reckon it’ll get drafty on the ol’ raft.” Hearing these words, I shivered. What if Cory rolled off the edge of the raft in the middle of the night? Imagine that freezing, watery wake-up!
Was this raft-home idea crazy? Not necessarily. As Cory waved at us from the heart of the pond, the White Mountains rippled their purple support. Clouds changed color and skimmed the lake. Rainbow autumn leaves cheered Cory on. What better place to watch it all than from the middle of a body of water?
Back on land, I actually felt just as stranded as Cory, if not more. You see, I have a seriously crazy Internet and blogging addiction, and three days in rural New Hampshire with no web (besides the spider kind, of which there were plenty) was like, WHOA. Just as Cory may have gazed longingly at land from his raft, I stared at my signal-less iPhone, craving.
The scenery was stunning, but I was in pain. What had I expected upon withdrawal from my constant level of Internet use? Some sort of white light of peace and happiness, I think. You see, articles about the “importance of unplugging” have swarmed the Internet lately, from the New York Times to USA Today.
All of these “Unplugging is Important!” articles sing the same thing: Our brains are getting messed up and deprived from constant Internet use, and thus it’s essential we give ourselves time without the web to reboot and become one with the universe again. These articles imply that unplugging will make us feel better and more connected.
Frankly, I don’t buy it. Sure, it was nice to unplug for the first few hours, but after that I just wanted to get back to work and to widespread connecting. For me, Internet use is about love, friendship, and being in touch with amazing people around the world. As you can see from these photos, I appreciated the heck out of New Hampshire’s foliage… and I appreciate it one hundred times more now that I’m able to use the Internet to share the scenes with readers like you!
As the sun began to set on Sunday night, Cory checked his watch, hopped in his canoe, and set his toe on land, having triumphantly completed 24 hours on water. “Geez,” he marveled, “it’s weird to be standing without swaying from waves!” He made some swaggering statements about heading back out to the raft for 48 more hours, but we knew he couldn’t wait to get to the shower and real mattress.
Similarly, you should have heard my squealing as our car headed home on the highway and my iPhone suddenly showed two, then three, then five bars of reception. “HELLO, WORLD!” I sighed passionately, and proceeded to dive into my 538 waiting emails like a lion tearing through juicy zebra meat.
So what is your take on all this, reader? How do YOU feel about physical “unplugging” and cyber “unplugging”? Do you find it helpful or painful? And most importantly: How long could YOU live on a raft in a New Hampshire pond? I eagerly await your responses… now that I am happily back online!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!