Katina Michael, in “Gone Fishing: Breaking with the Biometric Rhythm of Tech-Centricism” (IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Dec. 2016), makes some excellent observations about living in a technologically-saturated world and the essentiality of getting away. She notes the impact going bush for a month had on her and her family, “Everyone lived in the moment … no one had their head buried in front of a screen watching YouTube on demand, and we were outside in the fresh air awestruck by the beauty of the glistening stars.” The decision to take that month out of her demanding work-life was precipitated by memories of her own childhood trips to visit relatives living on apricot and citrus farms.
In this marvellous forum where the effort is made to consider what ever-advancing technology means for the human, the post-human, or the trans-human, Michael’s editorial draws attention to the imperative of breaking with our laptops and mobiles in order to remember what it’s like to be “just human.” When I read “Gone Fishing”, I’d just returned from Hyams Beach having spent our family holiday free of all technology. The year 2016 was a record year for me in terms of screen-time and I knew I was longing for that beautiful stretch of coast and time with my husband and three children. What I wasn’t prepared for was the realization of how profoundly my year spent online had impacted on my apprehension of the actual world. After only a few days, my response to the texture of my children’s skin, their realness to me, my understanding of them, intensified. Incrementally, imperceptibly, I’d become desensitized and only with sustained screen-free time did the fullness of sensation return. More than a little rocked by that realization, my resolution for 2017 is to make sure my rediscovered connection to my family doesn’t slip away. Katina Michael, thank you for reminding us of how much “going fishing” matters.