Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Back on the Grid

Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Likely one of the most astounding settings I've ever encountered (and a strong counterpoint to our usual imagery of Rwanda)

What does two weeks offline do to you?

Well, for one thing, you slowly lose a sense of the urgency and the false sense of connection that comes with ever-updated information. While I was travelling in Uganda and Rwanda over the past two weeks, I itched–at first–to check my email or to browse Towleroad and The Huffington Post every couple of minutes, as I would back in Boston.

However, after a day or so, the lack of access sinks in. You note how AT&T still sends texts to your iPhone while in Kampala, conveniently tempting you with its corporate marketing, its offers of roaming data usage for $19.95 a minute. Jesus. Who needs unlimited internet access at twenty dollars a minute?

You consider the fact that instantaneous access removes us from human interactions. Over the past couple weeks, we met with a lot of Ugandans, many of whom had lost parents or entire families to HIV/Aids. We listened to stories, we talked about common interests (who doesn’t take joy every once in a while in skipping class?) And after a few days off the grid, you begin to find meaning in cliches like “living in the moment.”

I had 256 emails in my Inbox after one week. Still trying to catch up, to wrap my brain around my virtual task list. Slowly, steadily. Slow but steady.

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Filed under: africa, technology, travel, , , , ,

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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