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Is It Time For a 'Gadget-Free' Zone?
By Barb Hansen
October, 2014

I saw an interview on television the other day with a man from China who heads an Internet company that just went public. It’s the biggest company of its type in the world. While that is really impressive, I was surprised – no, astonished – to learn that this man knew nothing of the Worldwide Web until sometime in1995. By the way his name is Jack Ma and his company is Ali Baba.

Now, not quite 20 years later, he is literally a rock star of online sales. His company sells anything to just about anybody as long as the product or service is legal. He’s come a long way fast and the outlook for his company is crazy bright. Take a minute and check him out on the web, the numbers will bowl you over. He’s got millions of customers and his sales and revenues are off the charts.

That got me thinking about the technological changes that have taken place and how those advances have brought a lot of good to the world – advances in science and technology that we could not have imagined 30 years ago when Vic and I started our business. However, there is a time and place for everything, including a time to disconnect from phones, I-pads, computers, Game Boy, etc. Let me explain.

We were on a boat in Alaska and there was a teenager with another group on board. He would sit in his family’s cabin with his “gadgets” playing games and what have you, missing most of the beautiful natural wonders all around us. His parents literally had to call him on deck to come and see the whales, porpoises, glaciers and whatever else came into view while the rest of us were on deck all of the time – in jackets, hats and gloves – so we wouldn’t miss one bit of the natural splendor that was before us.

Here at home (and I’m sure where you live, too) there are an increasing number of restaurants that are rewarding customers who turn off their cell phones while they dine. I have also heard other people say that when they go out to dinner, everyone has to put their phones in the middle of the table. If anyone has to use their phone during dinner, they get to pick up the tab for all at the table.

I’d like to see something like that extended to boats. They all should have a “gadget-free zone” at least while underway, unless they are being used as a navigational aid. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and around at the beauty that surrounds you. Don’t talk or text converse with your family and friends about the birds or the fish that you see along the way. Read about the history of the cruising area and about interesting places to explore at nearby ports of call.

But to be polite, it would be OK to message others by text or email -- Sorry can’t respond, I’m in a GFZ for the next few days. I’ll get back in touch when I return.

I like that and I think it would work. We all need to “disconnect” every now and then.

 

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