Picture of Becky on a Bird

The weekend before last eight of us ventured to Vancouver for a half marathon (though only four were brave enough to run it).  But this isn’t a story about overcoming physical challenges and accomplishing a personal best. This is a story about digital detachment syndrome. Yes, you know you’ve felt it: that anxious feeling when you can no longer easily connect with people, pull up a blue dot telling you where you are, or find the hottest food and entertainment destinations within current walking distance.

Eight people and two hotels in a city is a lot to coordinate, and without technology at our fingertips, it got even harder. Who knew driving 3 hours over the border could cause such angst?

The 2 Sprint/Android users found they could text other US numbers for free. The rest of us had reluctantly turned our phones to airplane mode at the border, having heard horror stories of hundreds of dollars in oversees data download charges. When there was an open wifi hotspot, we could sneak in a yelp review or 2, but for the most part we experienced a nostalgic return to 1994, minus the pagers. And it felt good to put the technology down and wander the streets, unsure of what boutique or bar patio we might stumble upon.

At least for first 24 hours. We found we had to either stick together or (gasp!) we had to know the time and the place we were going to rendezvous next. But we’d lost our adolescent pack mentality and gained divergent adult needs, which made planning the next 10 minutes difficult, much less 4 hours later.

We simply forgot how to function without the power of a smartphone at our hands. How to manage 7 or 8 hungry people all with different budgets and food needs without OpenTable and Yelp? How to figure out where the hip shopping is in Gas Town is without googlemaps and some online searching? Too often we ended up starved and a bit lost, and everyone could probably have used some good old fashioned American alone time, playing Angry Birds.

A digital wanderer’s boundaries are dependent on the limitations with how far their subscribed features will take them. Our digital detachment was a result of not having cheaper roaming rates which limited our time using our smartphone. The next time we go to Vancouver for the weekend I think I’m going to call AT&T first to get my Canadian calling on, or buy a Lonely Planet guide for my Kindle to make sure I have some information at my fingertips.

(Collectively we had three Androids, three iPhone 3s, one iPhone 4, and one Palm Pre)