IMG_2062This summer, I was ready to swear off all social media. The net just wasn’t working for me. It seemed like every time I’d step into the avenues that were supposed to be connecting people, I’d instead find people putting themselves on pedestals, sacrificing family values to get followers and turning sacred things into marketplace currency, like the moneychangers in the Temple. So, when some friends said their cabin was available for the weekend AND that the cell reception was unreliable, we opened our hands for the key.

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone, and when packing challenges, a late start and a crying baby (who normally doesn’t cry) had us running two hours behind and nearing the cabin territory in the dark (and rain) and with us misreading the printed directions, I finally started to miss my cell phone. No service. No way to map out a new plan. No way to call for more help like we had on an earlier wrong turn.

Finally, on our fifth try down the same gravel road, we discovered a discreet drive that led to the beloved little cabin. We felt like badge-worthy scouts–maybe we still had the old-school touch after all.

As we explored the inside of the REAL log cabin, all of the mementos framed on the walls and hung from the hat rack and pressed into the photo album, we got to know our friends even better. And what’s more, when we thumbed through the pages of the cabin journal where others had shared their experience of the place, we found ourselves part of an uncommon community, part of the long history of happy campers there.

When the sun was out, we sat on the unspoiled banks of nearby Lake Patoka, where trees grow without fear of the axe, where the only houses on the hillsides are those built by beavers or birds or squirrels. We hiked the nearby trails. The kids explored the clearing around the cabin, finding moths that looked like butterflies, and bugs that sparkled gold like pirate loot. When it rained, we took cover in a popular cave and marveled at all the things water had sculpted underground.

That evening, I checked my cell out of old habit, and Facebook popped open with two bars of service. Right there on my newsfeed, I saw something my brother had posted earlier. Like us, he and his family had gone caving that morning. Funny coincidence. I looked more closely at the fine print under his post. Corydon. Only a few dots away from us on the map. When I messaged him to say we’d been living parallel lives that day, I found they were even closer than I thought–a mere two minutes around the corner from our cabin.

The next day, we booked it to the train station and met them for a ride. The cousins had a lot of fun with the stick-em-up cowboys and horses on the excursion, but the real highlight was seeing one another so unexpectedly. By the end, I didn’t hate the Internet so much. I could see again how, used in the right way, it could bridge people in real life and connect instead of alienate. (And it reminded me how I might need to put a bit more of my communication time toward my family, so I’ll know ahead of time if we’ll be vacationing in the same spot!)

In the healthiest use of technology, people feel like part of something instead of on the outside looking in. I hope, like my generous friends with the cabin, I’m providing a place for people to feel at home, a place to rest from the meaningless chatter, a place that gives people a way to connect, whether offline or on.

lessdigitalHere’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Call an extended family member and ask what they’re up to today…just because.



{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}