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This sounds like a fantastic vacation! Chess, piano, karaoke, bingo... It must have been great to talk with such a wide range of New Yorkers, who normally don't take time to converse with strangers (devices notwithstanding). What cruise did you take? I've been enamored lately with the idea of a transatlantic crossing from Red Hook. It's not even that expensive, compared to airfares nowadays.


J, I recently spent eight whole days at sea and off-line. No cell phone service, no Internet, no landline. I chose not to bring my iPod or other recorded music, and not to watch TV or movies. I found that I met more people, played chess for the first time in 20 years (even tried tag team chess in teams of two, no conferring allowed), enjoyed playing the piano for fun, not pay, slept more, ate less, and didn't miss the Internet or the news much at all. Like my silent retreats, my off-line time gives me a chance to notice my surroundings and to learn about the world from people directly, rather than via the media whom I trust less and less the more I learn about how news is distributed.

Even though I had brought three books, I soon lost interest in them. Instead
I walked around talking to people and trying things I never do on land. I sang at karaoke; I watched bingo and trivia. I sat in a lounge and listened to the pianist tinkle away for his entire set without getting distracted by anything. And I had short, informal, surprising conversations with people I never ever meet during my regular routine of work and social life.

I spoke to Christian fundamentalists, a KJ (karaoke DJ) from New Jersey, wealthy Republican business owners, unrepentant homophobes, reluctant grandparents, working-class Puerto Rican families, a lesbian animal control officer, a mental health worker from Rikers Island, a former station master of the MTA and model train enthusiast, an exhausted new father, several cruise-loving widowed sisters, and a couple of musicians who had plenty of time to practice and compose when not playing gigs on the ship.

Most of these folks probably would have been too busy reading their blogs to talk to me, if we hadn't been all on a cruise ship off-line for eight days. As soon as we approached New York harbor, everyone pulled out their phones and devices and the conversations ended. I felt sad.

However, now that the cruise is over, I'm staying in touch with some of these folks via e-mail and FB. Go figure.


I wonder which feels more isolating: being away from other people or just being away from information. The lack of distraction sounds great! Oddly, when I'm on vacation and not following the news, I don't feel like I'm missing anything.


I once went 2 months without TV or the evening news. I was working in a rural part of Colorado. I heard through friends- on the phone and in letters- about some news, like sports teams, TV series, movies, and other world news. I felt a bit isolated, but also so FREE and focused on my work.


Yeah... not just Facebook but the Internet as a whole zaps so much time. I don't know how I would manage a baby and a house on top of everything else! Some of the signs of "Internet addiction" are supposedly that "you stay online longer than you intended" and "you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail." Check out this quiz!

Laura josar

This is a provocative concept I have a friend who tried to give up facebook for a week. Bc it is a time zapper and makes the time management of schoolwork and taking care if baby and the house difficult. I find myself in the same dilemma. Bur I just now learned from my 10 year old how to fill the iPod I got as shift for Xmas 2006!!

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