I just returned from my annual (not quite annual, but I try) pilgrimage deep into the Eastern Ontario woods, where I spent a few early November days seeking out big bucks of the four-legged variety.
PETA cardholders, relax. A flick of the tail was the most I saw. I spent most of my weekend chasing something far more elusive: an Internet connection on the Blackberry.
My first intuition was to leave the Blackberry at home. I knew there were few spots where a connection would be obtained and I’m not so vain as to think my company can’t survive without me for a few days. But I eventually decided to bring it along, you know, just in case.
I moved into camp Sunday afternoon, and by Monday morning I found myself discretely sliding my phone into my pocket and requesting the one watch where I knew I would get a signal. We call this spot The Flats. For a communications junkie, it should be called Nirvana.
When I saw the little red light start blinking on the Blackberry, I was more excited than if a 10-point buck had emerged from the junipers I was watching. One quick glance at the Inbox wouldn’t hurt anyone, so I snuck a peek to ensure the trucking world was getting by okay in my absence.
There were no signs of impending doom, so I turned it off for the rest of the day.
Tuesday, I was dispatched to a watch deep in the woods where a connection would be hopeless. Nonetheless, I brought my little plastic friend along just in case. Miracle of miracles, the red light once again began blinking, beaming in two days’ worth of messages via a weak and sporadic signal.
Within our camp, it would be a cardinal sin to admit to checking e-mail while on the watch. I’d be strung up from the tree like so many deer. So I tensed up when evening debriefings would include: “So, you didn’t see anything, James? That deer was headed in your direction.”
My dependence on the Blackberry is just one symptom of the hyper-connected world in which we now live. This is evidenced even at the hunting camp. Several years ago, we began using walkie-talkies to stay connected, as is now required by law in Ontario (or some other “reliable” means of communicating).
We have come to rely on these tools so heavily that chaos ensues when the battery on one of the radios should die.
Advancements in vehicle technology mean there’s not a spot we can’t get to by all-terrain vehicle. GPS ensures we never get lost. Technology has transformed our hunting experiences in the bush, much like it has changed the trucking industry.
The only difference is that while it has enhanced productivity in the trucking industry, I’d hazard a guess that our latest technological distractions have inadvertently saved the lives of more than a few deer. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Next year, I’m leaving the Blackberry at home. I swear.