Check out a fascinating piece by Matt Haber over at the New York Times. In “A Trip to Camp to Break a Tech Addiction,” Haber chronicles his recent trip to Camp Grounded, a camp specifically envisioned to help people break their addictions to technology and rediscover the joys of embodied, relational living. Camp Grounded is the creation of Digital Detox, “an Oakland-based group dedicated to teaching technology-addled (or technology-addicted) people to, in the words of its literature, ‘disconnect to reconnect.’”
As someone who works closely with a mostly-offline retreat center in the Texas Hill Country, I applaud the efforts of Digital Detox. But, I have to wonder if a few days of disconnected camping will actually help tech addicts find new ways of living. Will they intentionally develop new patterns of life that help them to use technology without being used by it? Will they find the ongoing relational support to live wisely with technology? Will they find a rationale for living upstream? Would the camp experience be more successful if it helped people learn to make choices about technology, to use it and then put it away according to a new vision for healthy living?
I would propose that breaking a tech addiction requires more than a weekend of roughing it and stargazing. It requires a new vision for life, a new community of like-minded souls, and new focal practices that enrich life while putting technology in its proper place. Such vision, community, and practices would help people to see how technology can even be part of what enriches life rather than always having to be that which diminishes it.