Matt Forney
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Unplugged

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When I started on this trip, I pledged to myself that I would travel “unplugged,” with my ears clear and my phone off, save to take pictures. This was motivated in part by necessity; as I’ve mentioned, I have an El Cheapo phone plan that leaves me without service in rural areas and in Canada. No point in wasting battery juice. But even if I could afford an iPhone on Verizon, I’d still be traveling with it off.

People today are addicted to their electronic pacifiers. Everywhere.

Pedestrians get run over crossing the street because they’re texting their friends about the panini they just ate. At parties and bars, half the patrons stand around hunched over their iCrackpipes playing Angry Birds or Liking their idiot friends’ Facebook updates. Everywhere you go, people just can’t put down their phones.

I include myself in that category. It used to be that whenever I left the house, I always jammed the earbuds in my ears, picked out an album from my two-dozen odd gigabytes worth of MP3s, and turned the volume up. Blaring LCD Soundsystem or Animal Collective straight into my skull helped me think more clearly, but it also isolated me from the world, made me numb to what was happening around me. Not to mention that I’ve been nearly hit by my fair share of cars because I forgot to look both ways before crossing the street.

I can’t do that here. I’m walking across North America, and I want to take in everything: the sights and the sounds.

Not too long ago, Dagonet posted on the Matrix of Internet addiction:

Sometimes after a night out that doesn’t go well, or maybe instead of a night out, I find myself tuning out and plugging into all the mindless distractions I have around my apartment.

Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I pull out my phone and start reading blogs, or articles, or tweets… or start doing NY Times crosswords…

It’s the chronic A.D.D. of our modern time. And it causes us to sacrifice so much.

I’m unplugging from the Matrix. I’m only using my phone when I need it. People become addicted to the Internet because they don’t have a purpose in their lives. I’m not going to be a slave to the machine.

Read Next: Ordinary Internet People: I Hate ‘Em