My biggest challenge on my InnerSea Discoveries expedition cruise in Alaska wasn’t the extensive kayaking or glacier hiking or even fishing (which I did for the first time in Wrangell). No, I knew I’d have the most trouble with unplugging, in what was about to become a weeklong digital detox.
The InnerSea Discoveries website makes it clear that the ship spends most of its time outside of cell range on its Inside Passage cruises. And it also reminds passengers that there’s no Internet on board. In case of emergencies, passengers can access the ship’s satellite phone, for a hefty $5 a minute fee.
So I prepped myself for a week without Internet. I downloaded books onto my iPad and scheduled blog posts in advance. I warned friends and family that they wouldn’t hear from me for a while (7 whole days! On my post-collegiate backpacking trip through Europe, I didn’t speak to people for months). I vowed to spend time gazing outside instead of glancing at my phone.
And it all worked….for a few days.
As our ship pulled away from remote Thomas Bay, I heard the alert sound coming from my iPhone, relegated to my backpack. I dug it out, and found that my email had downloaded. “We have service!” I exulted to Don, who could have cared less (his Internet addiction is less severe than mine). Within 10 minutes, it was gone – but my sickness had resurfaced. Detox was essentially over.
The only thing worse than *no* Internet is *random* Internet. I found myself checking my phone more often to see if I had bars, just like a crazed lab rat that pounds the control panel searching for a food pellet. On the few times I did get service, I tweeted photos that I had taken and frantically read as much mail as I could. Don shook his head. Sad. Very sad.
So can I unplug – really turn everything off and leave the Internet alone – for a week? The answer, based on our Alaska experience, seems to be no. Yet the experience has taught me that I need to regulate my social media activity a little more judiciously. I’m now making a conscious effort to put down the computer at night, and go for a walk instead. I still carry the iPhone with me, but I’m listening to more music and reading books on Kindle, rather than mindlessly surfing.
It’s a start.