Life among the unplugged

I’ve spent the week on Lake Tahoe’s tony west shore, nestled in a modest rental set, inexplicably, among giant lakefront places with private piers tipped by vintage Chris Crafts.

Here, the people either look like Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn did in On Golden Pond, or the gallery at The Masters. It depends on their age.

People play bridge and drink gin. Everyone is exceedingly friendly.

And no one carries a phone.

See, there is no Internet in this cabin. There are no bars within five miles.

I didn’t expect this. And initially, I freaked out. But no one else seemed to be bothered. People sat on the beach looking out, not down; idle chit chat bubbled on redwood decks, not Facebook.

I had stumbled into a lost civilization of the civil, but I couldn’t embrace it.

We have so much going on – I can’t not be in touch.

I can’t keep tabs on my RSS reader. What if something happens?

I didn’t set up an autoresponder. Clients will freak out.

But I’ve dealt with it. I take work calls on the rotary phone hanging on the wall. I drive 10 minutes down the highway to send an email. I get my work done in the morning then hit the beach.

By now, Friday morning, I’ve actually settled in. I have also come to appreciate the constraints placed upon me. I’ve kept phone conversations short and focused. I’ve responded only to those emails that demanded a response. I haven’t typed “LOL” all week.

The barriers to communication have reminded me just how important restraint has been in my working life over the past few years. I think what I haven’t said has been more pivotal than what I have said; what, as a company, we have denied ourselves has done more to build our brand than what we have pursued.

In the world outside this little enclave there are no barriers. There’s an open invitation to say anything, anywhere, any time. If you’re trying to build a business or a brand, it’s hard not to accept.

But I think it’s important to decline from time to time. To say less, thoughtfully, than more casually.

Of course, I realize I’ve just violated that notion with this meandering little post. So I’ll stop. The beach calls.

Talk to you Monday.