After a relatively cool week, Friday was upon us. Along with the celebratory day to end the week and start the weekend came a hot streak that we hadn’t seen thus far this year. I remember looking in the weather section of The Bee and seeing seven days of 100-plus-degree weather. For each day, the picture of the sun was bold, indicating that the weather would be hot.
When 5 p.m. hit, I rushed home from work. Our plan was to spend a few hours at the water park that night, until they closed at 8 p.m. As I entered the door to my kitchen, pizza was on the table. I enjoyed a few large pieces, while my wife dressed the kids in their swimwear. I too, quickly changed into my swimming trunks.
As each of us got our cellphones, we both looked at each other. We realized we didn’t have a plan to store the phones during our visit to the park and didn’t have a waterproof pouch for protection, so water doesn’t cause damage as we make our way down the lazy river.
Usually, when we go to the water park or lake, we do so as a group and someone stays at the table to watch our stuff. This was our first trip with only our immediate family. We went through our options, which included: leaving the phones in the car, renting a locker or simply leaving them at home. For safety and frugal reasons, we left them at home.
At first we were hesitant. What if someone wanted to contact us? What if we needed to call someone? Due to the proximity of the park to our home, we felt comfortable leaving the phones behind. We recognized that our choice would include hours of no text messages, phone calls, emails and surfing the internet.
We left our house with only our IDs, car and house keys and a credit card with a discount juice card, in case we decided to have an after-swim smoothie.
We got to the park and visited a couple of the attractions. In between one attraction to the other, we spent time talking to each other and focusing. I say focusing because sometimes, while we talk, we also check our phones. We pay attention to each other, but have learned to do so while checking what’s going on around the world and in our circles. Not this time. Our attention was on our family.
After several announcements on the loud speaker that the park was about to close, we gathered our things and headed for the juice shop. Again, our attention was on our family. We received our drinks and decided to walk around to a couple of the open stores in the shopping center.
Talking and bonding along the way, we gave our full attention to each other. There were no pauses to check our text messages, no curious log-ins to social media and no browsing the internet searching for immediate information. It was just us, walking and talking to each other.
In May 2016, an article in Forbes titled “How Often Do Americans Try To Unplug From Technology?” cited research from the Harris Poll regarding this topic. In it, 45 percent of adults indicated that they “try to unplug at least once a week.”
Before being faced with the dilemma of where to put our cell phones during our water-park trip, I didn’t think of the concept of unplugging. Our trip taught us that we don’t need to constantly check our phones for updates and that the world will still be there when we finally do.
Technology is great. It allows us to have the world at our fingertips. For the most part, it makes life easier. I survived five hours without my phone. Based on my experience, I’ll join the 45 percent of adults who reportedly try to unplug each week. Maybe one day, I’ll try to unplug each day. Until then, real quick, let me sign in and see what my “friends” are doing.
Sevag Tateosian is host and producer of The Central Valley Ledger on KFSR 90.7 FM and the CMAC channels, Comcast 93 and Att 99. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org