My Peace Corps experience has had a profound effect on my relationship with technology. This is something I had some notion was going to happen but I could never have really imagined quite what the reality would be. For a long time, one of the things which as defined “me” has been technology. I am a computer and gadget nerd. I tinker with computers and gadgets and acquire new ones as often as possible. I can no longer do these things like I did back home.
Pulling myself out of the developed world has forced me to realize just how much I had attached my identity to technology. It has also forced me to detach to some extent because I just don’t have the access. I no longer have a smart phone. My access to replacement parts or new acquisitions is severely limited. I have zero connection to the internet most of the time. Some of the other volunteers are enjoying this disconnection from the distractions they bring. Not that I am actually suffering or depressed from withdrawal or anything. Disconnecting has simply taught me that I really like being connected. I enjoy having a constant stream of news available. I like being able to communicate instantly with people.
I have also learned more about what my healthy relationship with technology can be. I am more comfortable not being in front of a screen for the majority of the day. I do the things I need to do on the computer and then shut it down. When I do have internet, I check the things I need to check and don’t “need” to spend another couple hours on all the time wasting sites. I still enjoy browsing the time wasters when I have the time to but they no longer grab my attention like they used to. When there are other things to do, I don’t have to yank myself away.
Of course, my relationship with technology will change again when I have more electricity and internet access. Will I still be as comfortable unplugging or will I get drawn back in? I can’t know, but I feel like some of it will stick. At the very least, I’ll be more aware of how amazing it is and how different it makes our lives.