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Coping with a whole lot of unplugged quiet


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Looking around, it doesn’t take long to realize what a high-tech world we live in. From smartphones to tablets and computers, most of us are constantly tied to technology and the world around us.

Walk into any restaurant and check out the number of people who are on their cellphones during dinner. Or watch the cars as they pass you on the road. At least half of the drivers are on a cellphone.

Many kids have grown up in an environment where playing outdoors is the thing we do once in a while, but playing video games is always high on the list.

So how do we adapt when all of that technology is gone? Not long ago, we had the opportunity to find out just what we’d do.

It was a beautiful day. We had plans to go to the cabin. We’d work on the yard a bit, plant a few flowers, check out the bird feeders and later grill out. In the evening, we’d watch some of our favorite television shows of the season. The finales for “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” as well as the Pacers playoff game against Miami were all scheduled. We would be busy!

As we entered the cabin, I picked up the phone (I always check the phone. During most rainstorms, we lose service) only to find we still had no dial tone from the last outage. Not the worst thing that could happen, I thought. We still had our cellphones, even though they work only part of the time and in very specific places in the cabin. If you are too near the center of the house, there is nothing.

If you are too far out into the yard and nearer the trees, nothing happens. Standing near the double window on the east side works best. We have learned these things.

OK. So we have no phone. I would call and report it again.

Next, I would turn on the television. Nothing. Satellite says, “Receiving no signal.” Not even local channels. Perhaps we could reset and try again. That might do it. Still nothing. Still no signal.

So. Here we are, facing an evening of no television, no computer, very little cellphone use and a whole lot of quiet. What to do now?

We decided, after maybe a minute or two of complaining, that we could do this thing. We could get along without 200-plus channels of television, even if it meant missing some of the shows we had been waiting to see. After all, we had a radio. We had the computer without Internet service. We had books to read. But most importantly, we had each other.

The next day, there was still no television or phone. That would have to wait at least another day. But for now, the experience had made us think of how incredibly tied to gadgets we have become.

What we learned is that it isn’t so bad to spend a quiet evening not glued to a television or watching the world’s events unfold on our smartphone. It really is OK to simply talk to family and friends while sitting on the front porch swing.

Would I want to be without television permanently? Absolutely not. But I have to admit, it was kind of relaxing to spend an evening without the constant flicker of the channel changer. After all, we still had the radio, which is all my grandmother ever had for most of her life.

Carol Edwards is retired after a 30-year career teaching elementary school students at at Greenwood schools. Send column ideas to newstips@dailyjournal.net.

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