When I saw this product tag on a tent at EMS, the world stopped making sense

The tag showed a brave young adventurer navigating the wilds by sitting inside a tent and staring at the screen of his laptop. Sorry, no photo. Just a word-picture today.

Let’s interpret the image, and be a bit dramatic about it: This tent you’re supposed to use to escape the soul-dessicating clamps of civilization and get cuddly with Ms. Nature is being advertised as a convenient way to do the same thing you do in front of your city-bound desk every day.

Let’s pretend that the people who try to persuade us to buy things, people whose job it is to understand our collective desires so to exploit them for profit, actually do intimately know the wantwantwant demon inside us all.

Apparently, after weeks of twisting my spine into a cornrow braid by playing two-finger hunt-the-letter on a computer keyboard, all I want to do when I go into the forest is, well, exactly that. I certainly didn’t check out of the city to go slice my cheeks on overhanging branches, get blisters from bashing my ankles on jagged rocks that steadfastly refuse standardized sizes, or play swat-the-bug.

This tag tells me a spreadsheet is more important than a conversation. It tells me e-mail (that campground better f*#!(*@ have wi-fi!) beats a chat. It tells me a map of the terrain is better than an exploration of it. It tells me I never want the flow of new information to stop. It tells me that constantly staying connected to this communication tool is more important than briefly severing the cord. It tells me that virtual life supersedes real life. It tells me that life is work, and nothing but.

Ok, I exaggerate for effect, but if this is what we have collectively come to, if the desire radar of those who listen to our wants is blipping with this signal, then I have to wonder what happens to the essential and regenerative joys of disconnection.

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