To many of us, the term unplugged commands visions of MTV and rock bands doing acoustic sets with adoring fans gathered around.
But of late the definition leans more toward disconnecting oneself from the "collective electronic consciousness", so aptly stated by Urban Dictionary. An alternate definition is "to be seperated (sic) from the borg-like creation of being constantly connected through digital communication tools".
As I sit here on a Friday night anticipating our long-awaited escape on Sunday to our summer place in the Canadian Maritimes, UD's definition of the verb unplug resonates deeply: "Do something that would contribute to forgetting one's problems or reducing stress."
I have always considered myself to be as "wired" (as in connected, not as in bug-eyed stressed -- although there are times) as anybody. It's the nature of the beast, notably what I do for a living.
I sit in front of a computer for 8-12 hours a day (much of it with a headset on), but I draw a line around that. Partly because I work at home, I pretty much don't do cell phones except when I travel or I need to test mobile web design or compatibility.
I have a slick new Motorola Razr M, which is cool I suppose but I hate talking on it, and I don't like keyboarding with my thumbs. I love Google Navigation, though, and I check my email in a pinch (although not when out to dinner with my wife).
I have an iPad, and it's OK for casual web browsing and some other stuff, and I do love the display, even if it's pre-Retina. But given the choice I'll walk into the other room and use my laptop.
In a nutshell, I like technology and use it as a tool, but I don't play with it nor am I obsessed or consumed by it.
OK, so where is this going?
Daughters A and B (and significant others) were in town for the long 4th weekend, and the topic of Daughter B's upcoming October wedding didn't stray far from the top of the conversation pile.
DB mused aloud at one point, "Do you think the wedding should be unplugged?".
What, the band plays acoustic? I thought. Hmmm, a little strange, but whatever. This is Vermont, and casual is the norm. Dressing for dinner is putting on a clean T-shirt.
A clamor for definition ensued, and DB explained like this: "It's when you have a cell phone checkpoint, like a coat check. We have someone collect their phones at the door and then you have specific times, like between the ceremony and cocktails and between dinner and dancing when people can retrieve their phones, check their email, connect with the sitter and that kind of thing... then give them back."
Taking a cue from The Masters, I immediately thought.
Daughter A, the maid of honor, screamed her objection. "No way I'm doing that."
DB continued. "Think about it. We're getting ready to walk down the aisle and all of a sudden all the guests are sticking their camera phones into the aisle or above each others heads and they're focused on that, rather than being in the moment and experiencing the event... not to mention cluttering our photographer's shots."
And I'm already paying huge dollars for a great photographer (more than the band, in fact). With digital photos, we can select the best of those she takes and then share with everyone. Outstanding! I was beginning to warm to the idea.
We have all seen videos of concerts where the audience is a sea of camera phones held aloft, taking bad videos of others holding camera phones aloft, taking bad videos of...
"Then, when the party gets cranking and Uncle Yosh is all drunked up and dancing around with a lampshade on his head," DB continued, "what happens at the party stays at the party. If somebody gets a bit sloppy, as usually happens at some point, it's not on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube within five minutes."
I'm liking this more and more. It's a bit heavy-handed, I suppose, but why have a private event only to open it to the public via social media? (Once again, I'm really beginning to dislike that term).
But more importantly, I personally have many times tried to photograph various events (summer whale watches is a good example), where I'm so "focused" on the photography that I don't really see or experience what I'm trying to capture.
What's the punchline here? I don't know. Maybe it's simply to put the gear aside once in awhile and just be in the moment.