NOT FAR FROM where I live there’s a neighbourhood called “Little Malta.” And in the Little Malta neighbourhood, there’s a travel agency with posters in the windows promoting travel to—you guessed it—Malta. I used to chuckle when I passed the Little Malta travel agency, not because I think there’s something wrong with Malta. More like I don’t think very much of anything about Malta. I mean, apart from Maltesians and Maltaphiles and Maltists, if those are even words, who does?
As I took a cell phone and netbook, it is inaccurate to claim I “unplugged” on a recent trip to Chicago. I did however go without newspapers and without thinking about work and the many things left behind, and being outside my routines and therefore in a sense outside my habitual self, I do feel as though I had.
It is a telling metaphor, this unplugging. One employs the word in its broad sense, not only to the electrical circuit but to one’s own body and, specifically, brain. Such today is the comprehensive material burden of connectedness, a word which could once have been rendered only in human terms, but now invokes the clichés of social media. Pulling out the electrical plug seems uncomplicated enough. It is so easy to walk away from connections of the Internet sort that not to do so has become the only thing easier. Continue reading On Not Being There