Prepare To Disconnect
Words by Tee-Jay B
Do you own a smartphone? Do you sleep beside it and take it with you most places? Even the washroom? In this digitally driven time I assume a lot of you do. Mobile devices have permeated our society, and it is becoming increasingly harder to resist embracing and adopting such technologies. They are permanently changing the way we work, socially interact, and aspects of our daily lives. So if phone usage is not abating, then we should take a break from time to time. Fortunately for Tall Tree attendees, this type of respite happens on Browns Mountain each year in addition to live music, vendors, and artistic endeavors. The lack of cell service ensures no phone calls, texting, aimless scrolling, or phantom vibrations occur during the time you spend at the festival.
Sure, one can attempt to find service at the Hubl Station on San Juan Boulevard, but I recommend using that space for viewing the landscape – not viewing your Instagram. And of course there is our proclivity to capturing moments through our smartphones. The inclination towards using phones to record videos and pictures is changing our cognitive behavior and allowing us to outsource our memory. We feel the need to document and broadcast, but is it possible to do so and still fully experience what’s going on around us? When your phone is out some part of your attention will always be fixed upon it.
Now you’re probably thinking, “but how can I resist taking pictures of all the beautiful scenery and people?” And I don’t blame you. Tall Tree attracts real people to one of the most panoramic settings Vancouver Island has to offer. It is inevitable that attendees will use their phones to capture great moments, but I urge you to be mindful of your usage and try to take in as much as you can through natural senses. I did this by leaving my phone in my tent the duration of the festival last year – save for playing some tunes at the campsite. After the weekend was over, I realized the one thing my experience lacked was the absence of my phone. It was quite liberating. It felt like those scenes in the movie Pleasantville, the ones where people turn from black-and-white into color. Because it felt so refreshing, I wanted to present to you some of my suggestions and substitutes for taking a break from your pocket computer.
Put that thing on airplane mode. Your phone should last most of the weekend for when you need to take those certain photos/videos. More importantly is letting your mom know you’re alive once you get back into service range.
Bring a disposable camera. I typically bring one of these cameras whenever I go on big outings. It’s fun to take photos that are not instantly accessible – just remember the flash at night time.
Pack a small notepad and pen. You’re going to meet a lot of groovy people at Tall Tree so take some notes, draw pictures, write people weird messages, etc. Go old school. There is also the info booth where messages can be posted up for others to find.
Listen to what artists are saying. For example: last year I learned about the the U.S nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage from Yukon Blonde, not my Facebook news feed. Yes – it was timely, but news can drop at any moment.
Hold up a lighter instead of a phone. Because this should be a trend we bring back.
Anyone who has previously been to Tall Tree will tell you that the vibe is different from other festivals. I believe the limited use of mobile devices contributes a lot to the ambiance on Browns Mountain. People lose the ability to retreat to their phones because there are simply no alerts to be receiving. It is this lack of an incessant distraction that forces us to focus our attention in more interpersonal ways. So get ready to connect with people and nature. It’s about using your eyes and ears, and not your thumbs.