By Emily Woodbury
A new contest by SatelliteInternet.com that you may have seen floating around the web on popular pop-culture sites such as Thrillist, Buzzfeed, Travel + Leisure, and many more, that wants to pay you $1,000 to “digitally detox” in an RV for 48-hours. “Digitally detox?” Sure, for some, that might feel like a necessary relief these days, when screens and advertisements and videos are plastered and playing around us 15-hours a day… but is that really what RVing is all about?
I’m a millennial (I know, I know, hold your judgments), and I know that most of my peers still envision RVing as a remote, leisurely way to travel. The hashtag #vanlife has dominated social media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and people are converting vans, old ambulances, school buses, trucks, etc. into RVs. Do I want one? Yes, absolutely, but we don’t need to discuss that now. Wink.
The idea of camping, or RVing, appeals to my generation because we’ve grown up with screens surrounding us our entire lives. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 13, but now kids are getting their own tablets at age 5, and phones at age 8. Of course the idea of a “digital detox” sounds appealing, how could it not? But is it, or should it be, necessary?
The vision of RVing hasn’t changed: a lone-road, a starlit evening, coyotes howling, a fire crackling… We know this isn’t how it is anymore, so why does this fantasy still exist?
You know the reality well by now: crowded campgrounds, reservations a year in advance, lines for hours to get into National Parks, fire-bans, neighbors with loud outdoor TVs and LED lights blocking out any bits of the beautiful Milky Way. Stars? What stars? Marshmallows? Nah, haven’t had one of those in a while…
If you’re a full-timer, a “digital detox” might seem like a “digital-load-of-crap” to you. This is your life and your home, so you’d “detox” the same way anyone else would. Maybe you put your phone and/or tablet away after dinner, maybe you don’t look at your phone until 10am after you’ve had your morning coffee… whatever it is, we all find ways to “digitally detox” differently.
This contest, though I’ll admit it does have the best intentions (and I do mean that), misses the point. Are we so addicted to technology that we need to “digitally detox?” Is RVing being used as a pathetic excuse for a time when we shouldn’t use our cell phones and computers?
No. 48 hours to “digitally detox” is going to be about as successful as a diet. You’ll do it for a couple of days (not even a week…), feel fantastic, then eventually go back to your old ways. It’s not about that. Digitally detoxing should be a part of a daily routine, er, a lifestyle change, should we say…
Go for a hike and only take your phone out for photos, go for a bike road and put your phone in your backpack, go sit out at night and find a place to look at the stars (even if you have to drive away from your neighbor’s outdoor LED lights) and put your phone away… Be present. Breathe. Listen to the sounds. Try and identify five smells. But heck, if you’re on a hike and wonder what kind of berry you found, take your phone out and identify it. If you get lost on your bike ride, let Google Maps guide you back. And if you’re looking at stars and wonder what constellation that is, let that neat app on your phone tell you. Technology is cool, there’s no denying that.
For some, there are times to “digitally detox,” but if you have enough self-control to put your phone away when you don’t need it, a detox won’t ever be necessary. Everything in moderation, as they say…
If you want to enter the contest or read more about it, you can do so here.