This was Day 2 at Camp Grounded, an adults-only summer camp held on former Boy Scouts quarters in Navarro, Calif., about two and half hours north of San Francisco. A little more than 300 people had gathered there for three days of color wars, talent shows, flag-raisings and other soothingly regressive activities organized by Digital Detox, an Oakland-based group dedicated to teaching technology-addled (or technology-addicted) people to, in the words of its literature, “disconnect to reconnect.”
The rules of Camp Grounded were simple: no phones, computers, tablets or watches; work talk, discussion of people’s ages and use of real names were prohibited.
There was a reason such strictures seemed appealing. A year ago, I was an editor at a news blog. My days started at the office at 7:30 a.m., where I routinely worked through lunch until 6:30 p.m. I was compelled to follow 1,200 Twitter users, skim 180 RSS feeds and edit dozens of posts a day on an ever-accelerating conveyor belt of content that would have made Lucy and Ethel choke. Evenings were a chance to catch up on “important” television shows between skimming Twitter…
Without the distractions of the Web, social media, television and breaking news, campers, who, according to organizers, ranged in age from 19 to 67, were invited to share with one another and learn about ourselves.