Susan Michelle's Compass
Disconnect The Tech And Reconnect With Life
By Susan Michelle
Aug 16, 2009 - 5:11:51 PM

LOS ANGELES—When did we stop living? Lately, everywhere I look, people have given up on interacting with the real world, and began devoting all their time to a screen.  Take an average day for many of us: as you walk to your car or the subway, you’re reading something on your phone. You go to work; you spend the day glued to your computer.  You go to the gym, and you watch the TV screens while on the treadmill.  You come home to spend an hour on Facebook, an hour researching something online and/or an hour zoning out on TiVo/Netflix/reality TV.  By day’s end, you’ve had dozens of interactions with folks and places on/via your screens, yet had few live conversations with three-dimensional people in front of you, or barely even raised your head to notice the real-world happenings around you.  

This autopilot isolation of worker drone life is nothing new; it has always been draining.  But, before the 21st century, all one needed to do to recharge and reconnect with the world was take a vacation. Nowadays, I fear vacations are going the way of life: getting lost in a screen.  

On road trips, our kids now stare at DVD players in cars, rather than the sites out the car window.  When in a strange city, instead of going out to dinner, we sit in our hotel rooms watching TV, researching local activities on our laptops, or responding to e-mails from work.  And, if we do go out, our faces are either still buried in our PDAs, or hidden behind our cameras (because now we can take pictures of EVERYTHING and never run out of film).  We Twitter our activities, upload photos to Facebook, and blog about the day’s events before the trip is even close to over—and, by doing all of this, we are actually MISSING the incredible world around us.

Only when you set the phone, iPod and camera down, can you truly soak in the sites. You notice the babushka-clad woman offering a flower as you pass by.  You’re open to the cute French guy to say hi without feeling like he’s intruding.  You hear the local guitarist in the background at the café.  You see the nuances of a killer sunset, and while you might not smell roses, you might smell the fresh-baked bread as you pass the panaderia, or the urine left by the homeless guy you just stepped over.  You are present, aware and experiencing real life...rather than being drained by the 2D world of a cold, lifeless screen.

Technology is immensely useful, no question—especially for travel.  But, please, next time you take a trip—and, heck, maybe even tomorrow when you’re just traveling through your normal daily routine—cut the screen time short.  Try to remember how rich real life was before MySpace, Google and Outlook overtook our daily existence.  Let the battery die on your gadgets, and watch how your soul recharges in return.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll feel alive again.  

About the Author
: A former Hollywood producer and now 2nd-generation travel professional, Susan Michelle travels the planet as the “face” of the fashion-forward Compass travel lifestyle brand. Travel questions? Write her at

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