We were isolated and more than 10 miles from anything resembling civilization. There was no cell service, Wi-Fi or internet. In that moment, we needed a connection to the outside world for something far more important than porn, email or a status update. Things had gone wrong in Peru.
We are more connected than ever, and the increasing mobile traffic in our inventory here at JuicyAds is proof. There’s nothing wrong with technology. However, most of us don’t have a healthy relationship with technology and carry around our mobile phones and attend to their every need — we buy them cases, apps, and spend a small fortune on data to keep them well fed. In a way, they are treated better than some children. But what happens when that connection goes offline?
As it turned out, even in the middle of the mountains of Peru, technology was not lost after all. We had no bars on our phones, but at a time when it was truly needed, an old-school radio call went out.
Statistics suggest that 53 percent of us have either engaged in distracted walking or been on the “receiving” end of an encounter. While its suggested only 10 percent of people will become full blown “internet addicts” needing digital detox (yes, that’s actually a thing) 70 percent of these people have an otherwise addictive personality and 75 percent suffer from related relationship problems. But it goes much deeper than that: Our digital lives and desire for technology is killing us. Approximately 18 percent of fatal car accidents are caused by distracted driving. It’s uncertain how many of those drivers were masturbating to porn at the time.
Youth under 25 are far more susceptible to the allure of technology and far more engaged with it because they’ve never known a time without technology and the “always on” phenomenon. It’s truly difficult to remember a time when it was not like this. Few people truly “turn off” anymore and are endlessly barraged with texts, tweets and status updates from people we are friends with on Facebook but haven’t talked to in real life for years. The Internet makes everything easier, faster, and there is a permanent sense of instant gratification — including porn. The average text message is read within three minutes. So, when it comes to texting after that first date, odds are that within three minutes of your text (or sexting) they are either stalling to write back or will not reply at all.
When my newlywed wife and I were asked to travel to Peru to visit Machu Picchu, I immediately said yes. It helped that we were at a friend’s Halloween party and had been drinking. As one of the wonders of the world, it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips. These are the places that hard work, determination and working in the adult industry can take you. I was not concerned about being “disconnected” because Peru surely had internet available. It was a few weeks later that I found out that the trip included a four-day, 26-mile hiking trip along the Inca trail to reach Machu Picchu. That’s when it was clear the laptop would be staying at home and I was about to digitally detox for 10 days. Lesson learned: Say “yes” whenever you can, but know all the details before you agree. There’s actually a term for people who are adversely affected by withdrawal from technology; it’s called “digital withdrawal disorder.
The last time I had actually traveled without a laptop and Wi-Fi had been well over a decade ago. I’ve always been connected and productive, even when on “workation.” I convinced myself that the adult industry and my traffic company would still be there when I got back. My internet research suggested there were bigger things to worry about. Several people die every year on the Inca trail and you can only tour with a guide. Hiking accidents are frequent, but were the least of my worries. Altitude sickness and subsequent pulmonary edema can be fatal at the altitudes we would be hiking (over 13,000 feet).
The reality of my digital situation hit me around 3:45 a.m. when we boarded the bus en route to the Inca Trail. Anxiety followed about being completely unplugged and unable to handle any business problems that may arise while off the grid. My phone was not receiving updates or alerts, and the fact that I was unable to connect (even if I wanted to) seemed to melt any of my concerns away. There would definitely be bigger things to worry about. Two women in our group had already fallen gravely ill from bad food or water. One was puking into a Ziplock bag behind me and was a color of green you so rarely see on a healthy (or alive) human being. Neither one of them would eat for the next three days. Anti-nausea suppositories were used — not exactly the hottest “anal action.”
The first several miles of the hike were flat and easy, but by the end of the day after something around 10 miles, we were scaling hundreds of stairs at altitude and it was by far the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life. Despite my history in endurance sports, it was the sheer lack of oxygen that was the struggle. I could not breathe and even at rest during our hour-long lunch break, my heart rate would not drop below 110 beats per minute. At the end of the day’s hike we gathered for dinner where we ate at a table and talked without a single cellphone present and nobody seemed to really notice the absence. We collapsed into our sleeping bags and had no energy for anything else. The first day experiencing life without technology had been exhausting and any faint memory of the Internet and any “digital withdrawal” had all but evaporated, much like my fitness level.
Despite the research that suggests that stopping our relationship with technology causes withdrawal symptoms similar to drug use, I was free from it completely. “Detox” was going well. On day two when we hauled ourselves up to 13,779 feet and over Abra Warmiwanusca (better known as Dead Woman’s Pass) being connected to the rest of the world was the furthest thing from my mind. After that, the highest pass and altitude was behind us, and it was all downhill from there, down thousands of stairs. After taking some photos I was swiftly catching up with the rest of our group when my foot slipped. I heard a pop. A moment later I was sitting on one of those steps in panic. When I put weight on the foot, it was clear something was wrong.
Luckily our group was stacked with people from the medical industry — doctors, physical assistants, nurses. The initial diagnosis from the ER doctor in our group was that it was a sprain and my foot was taped up. I honestly thought with a certain amount of delusion that I could “walk it off” but after about a mile of hiking while helped by both our guides, the situation was not good. At the lunch spot my wife examined the foot closer and made a much worse diagnosis — the foot was fractured and there was no way I could continue on my own. Hard decisions had to be made.
As it turned out, even in the middle of the mountains of Peru, technology was not lost after all. We had no bars on our phones, but at a time when it was truly needed, an old-school radio call went out. Over the next two days I would be carried by stretcher by a rotating group of Peruvian porters and rescue workers. We would travel over 10 miles of that treacherous trail, over two mountain passes towards Machu Picchu. New struggles would emerge that would teach me firsthand the importance of technology, Wi-Fi, culture, language — and how all of these things can dramatically affect an advertising campaign.
Continued in next month’s issue of XBIZ World Magazine.