Last weekend, David and I traveled to North Georgia and the border of Tennessee. We had a friends trip to go white water rafting for the first time! We were so excited to go! Since I was young, I wanted to try it at least once. It would be an adventure to say the least! I’m willing to try anything [within reason] once.
We left Atlanta to drive north. After the two-hour car ride, we dropped cell service here and there and it reminded me of several trips I’ve made before. I have driven through Southeastern Ohio, North Central Nebraska or northern Missouri and been lost and separated from cell service. Those times, I was often alone.
That’s challenging. But when you have someone with you to go through the navigation together, it makes it easier and more fun. You can share road trip stories, belt out sing along sessions to your favorite 90s songs and enjoy mid-drive snacks or prepped meals. We found a playlist on Spotify that was more of “driving music” and allowed us to have a deeper conversation about relationships, friendships, love and life.
Driving on the curvy roads prepared us more for the white water rapids we would face the next day. We did not have any friends go white-water rafting recently. But, it was even more important to me to be present for this experience.
There are so many distractions in life. A lot of our friends had either events or bodybuilding competitions the weekend while we were gone. Both David and I are in an off season from competing and having some FOMO.
FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out” is a large problem for our age group today. I believe it to be the biggest downfall with social media. It can easily cause envy, jealousy, desire and craving for attention, instantaneous reaction and response. More critically, it takes away from being present.
I have suffered it. I think I leads to a new category: FOBP. This I call “Fear of Being Present”. For some, they do not necessarily fear missing out. Instead, they have a fear of being present. They do not want to face a situation, want to live in a “fantasy world” in their phones and “escape reality”.
I’ve noticed the more my social media platforms grow, the more I get sucked in to this tunnel. It has taken some self analysis and witnessing it in others. I now acknowledge it head on; I am addressing my weakness with FOMO and FOBP.
Therefore, for the day trip, I disconnected from my cell phone. It was self-induced once we reached the cabin. Cell service was spotty, I wanted to enjoy the moments and cook our last meal for the evening and make the most of our time in nature of the Georgia mountain ranges. So that is what I did. Others may have checked their phones on occasion that evening. The next day, we all left our phones in the car until after the rafting trip.
This forced us to be present. FOBP was pushed aside. This was about enjoying the experience. We could share it later. Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. I do not have video footage or photos of the greenery, the steep and staggering geography along the riverbeds, the sparkling blue waters in the calm parts of the waters. These are all in my mind. But that is what makes it more fun to reminisce and think back to the experience!
Our guide JP was an eclectic, knowledgeable rafter. He has been working there for five years and his knowledge shown through as we successfully made our way down the river to his commands.
“Two forward!” “At ease!” “Left side, three forward!” “Everyone down!!!”
I almost fell out of the boat two times. But, those twists and turns on the quick white waters gave me the adrenaline I’ve been missing! It was a bonding experience to work as a team, rowing on command and taking control (as much as we could) of the raft along the natural and man-made Ochoee River.
Four hours later, we returned, everyone intact and with slight sunburns. We also found out there were cameras around the river capturing moments from the trip.
We dried off, ate and made our way back to Atlanta. I pulled out my phone and was reluctant to review all the notifications. It was nice not having the noise and clutter.
Detachment from our devices is hard. Let’s be real: we live on them. And it sucks sometimes. That’s why taking a little separation can be good. It does not necessarily have to be for half a day. It could just be one hour each day you dedicate to not checking your phone, setting it on “Do Not Disturb” and focusing on work, family or friends. Let’s shift away from the “Fear of Being Present” and move into being present, not missing out on the moments and memories that life is really about… the ones not seen in a screen.
What will you choose? I think I will dive more into this topic, because it is not just relevant for me, but for many others in my life.