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A long rest stop on the information highway

I've been off the grid for two weeks, snugly oblivious at a rest stop along the information highway.

My 14-day long hiatus was intentional. My wife and I took a long-planned vacation out of the country, and I decided the best way to take full advantage of the time off was to tune out.

That's uncommon for me and perhaps for most Americans today. We are compulsively connected to each other and the world. Information charges at us constantly from all directions, triggering reactions and responses.

That's critical for me. . . most of the time. The constancy of connectivity provides me with the currency of my business - information.

My days are a blur of texts and tweets, emails and phone calls, web surfing and channel changing. That's not a complaint, it's the simple reality of what must be done to gather the news and information I need to conduct a radio talk show and write daily commentaries.

To ignore any of the myriad ways we are connected risks falling behind, which is a death knell in the information dissemination business.

So most folks I know in media are, like me, compulsive about remaining connected, even when they are off work, out of town or even on vacation. It's hard to switch off our competitive instincts.

But I did this time.

Yes, I had my phone, but it remained off. E-mailers received the generic "out of office" reply. I went tweetless for 14 days and only bought a newspaper once - the International Herald Tribune - which contains mostly world news.

Family and work had our contact information in case of emergency, but thankfully there was none, so for two weeks we drifted along unencumbered by the normal demands of daily life, which is now broken down into hyper-busy, moment-to-moment segments.

And so the focus during our travels was entirely on what to see and how to get there, where to eat and how to read a menu in a foreign language.

These are the fresh and exhilarating challenges of being on the road that awaken senses that can get dulled by the daily grind.

When we got back I called my family, checked my emails - over 1,000 had piled up - and found out, as we often do after an extended time away, that very little had changed.

That's reassuring, but it's also humbling. You mean work and the world got along fine without me?

So my two-part vacation - out of the country and incommunicado - has come to an end.  I'm in town and online, and I'm fine with that.

I'm too interested in the news, thankful for my job and curious about the goings on from day-to-day and minute-by-minute to let it all pass without being a participant.

However, it was refreshing to be unplugged for a while.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.



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