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Unplugging has benefits

A recent break from internet, television and phone service has left us pondering the pace and immediacy of this hyper-connected world we live in.

Not long after returning from a week unplugged, we had to apply the brakes for a man in Kihei who was so intent on texting while walking down the middle of a parking lot access road he did not register the vehicles he was forcing to halt behind and in front of him. At the Kula Country Farms Pumpkin Patch the next day we watched a toddler clutch a cell phone playing a cartoon movie as he ran and helped his family search for the perfect gourd to make a Halloween jack-o-lantern.

Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but would it hurt to put the devices away and be present in the moment? And let’s not even get started on restaurant patrons who cannot go one minute without checking their phones. Seeing tables surrounded by friends and families ignoring each other as they bend over their devices makes us wonder if the art of conversation is doomed. Will human interaction someday be reduced to emojis, tweets and texts?

During our recent disconnect, the world seemed to slow down. Patience truly was a virtue. It reminded us how, not so long ago, unplugged adventures were chronicled by film and not digital images. Talk about delayed gratification, with film it could be a month or longer between the time you took your pictures and when you finally got to see them.

It would be quite a stretch to make a case that film was better than the ease and immediacy of today’s digital photography, but its delays were not all bad. Sorting through pictures once they were processed and picked up rekindled memories that had begun to fade. There was usually a surprise or two, an unexpected moment captured. Good shots were reprinted to share with others. Stinkers tossed into the trash. Every once in a while, an entire roll turned out blank. Some pictures with high hopes proved blurry or poorly exposed.

Every failure was a life lesson in managing expectations, not getting your hopes up. And every picturesque stunner was a welcome reminder that all good things are worth the wait.

While it is possible to step away from this era’s digital deluge, society is never going back to the quaint days of film and rotary phones. Technology and its distractions are sure to keep zooming full speed ahead.

That does not mean we need to keep pace. It is up to us as consumers, parents, teachers and role models to decide when to power devices down and take a moment to stop and smell the plumerias.

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