Posted by Ken Campbell March 21, 2011 1 Comment 1014 views

In 1925, an exploring party took a two-way radio with them into the jungles of the Amazon. In what was hailed as an historic achievement, they remained in daily contact with the media and the thousands of readers who were following along with their progress. (If that doesn’t sound like Facebook 1.0, I don’t know what.) Months in the jungle, but never really that far away.
The Royal Geographic Society, in a bulletin that celebrated the first-ever “communication by radio to the Society from an expedition in the field,” also managed to look at the event from another, less gushing, point of view. “Whether it is an advantage to take off the glamor of an expedition into the unknown by reporting daily is a matter on which opinions will differ.”
Less is better, I’m becoming more sure of that every day. I once wrote a post about a certain long-distance kayaker who traveled with a sat phone, GPS and internet linkup. What I wrote wasn’t meant to be incendiary, but I did put forth the idea that technology is invasive by nature and has the capacity to dilute our wilderness experience. Let’s just say that opinions differed.
I was duly chastised by the paddler whose name I had mentioned; the email I received in response to the post began with “WTF,” and it went downhill from there. (There are people who, at some point, start to believe their reviews and lose the capacity for humor, becoming all but incapable of polite communication.) I removed the post because I didn’t want to hurt any feelings, and I still don’t, but I do want to revisit the topic.
Is being “in touch” always a good thing? Does the nature of adventure change when outside contact is maintained throughout the journey? Where do you have to go these days to get beyond the reach of the digital hand?

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