I’ve talked about going “off grid” before. I’ve added a personal aspect to the phrase:
“Off grid” originally meant you were disconnected from the power system. When the term was coined it implied remoteness or self-reliance.
Virtually every dwelling in every developed nation is tied to an electrical delivery system. We’ve strung power cables planet wide. How wondrously improbable! We move electricity from huge generation facilities all the way to the lamp I keep over my tropical fish. We take it for granted. Well, I don’t. I’m impressed. The Romans built aqueducts…neat. I power my clock radio from another time zone…holy shit!
Rural electrification missed a few spots. Folks in the boondocks (and this is very rare) might be involuntarily off grid. For the other 99% of us the grid is already there. Only a kook would disconnect. God bless the kooks! When someone disconnects from the grid now it implies an interesting personality; a bunker bound survivalist welding faraday cages with his diesel generator, a patchouli scented hippie studying yoga by his flickering 5 watt solar powered fluorescent, an Amish farmer reading a German bible by candle light, etc…
I’m too cheap to buy a hulking generator or a “Prius of the roof” solar system. Like many “green technologies” the numbers don’t pencil out. If I won the lottery I’d be off grid within a month. Hasn’t happened yet. I use the same cheap coal powered electricity that the rest of us do for the same reason; it makes sense.
Even as I accept cheap grid power I’m not so blasé about grids which deliver “information”. I view them with suspicion because “information delivery” can become “bullshit delivery”.
I use “off grid” to describe a disconnect from the usual bullshit which surrounds us all.
In the 1980’s they decided it was imperative to pipe 50 channels of shit into the living room idiot box. By the time MTV stopped playing music videos, cable TV had insinuated itself into most homes and satellite’s competing grid of microwaves meant that nobody was truly “unreachable”.
TV is usually an endless stream of hedonistic slime, slavering consumerism, and manipulative horseshit. Not my TV though. My TV is “off grid”; it has neither cable nor satellite. It displays only what I deliberately acquire. A side effect is that I’m detached from the shared experience of whatever TV is currently spewing. Usually that’s good; imagine Christmas without advertising addled children and election cycles without attack ads! But sometimes I seem out of touch. I don’t know who got voted off the island or why I should care. That’s another form of “off grid”.
To me, “off grid” means I haven’t watched TV lately. That’s ok. TV news hasn’t been “news” in a very long time.
The 1990’s brought the cell phone. They’re a good idea that slowly became a leech that accumulates monthly bills while making sure you’re never ever left in peace. My cell phone, like yours, has an off switch. I stuff that bastard in the glove box where it belongs and never regret it.
To me, “off grid” means you’ll have to leave a message. I’ll call back…unless I don’t.
The grid that snares me most is the internet. I like the internet. Sometimes it’s wise to turn it off for a while anyway.
To me, “off grid” means I have no idea what just “went viral” on the internet. That’s ok. We all laughed at the “Don’t taze me bro” guy but that doesn’t make it important.
Fairly often my TV, internet, and cell phone are off simultaneously. That’s “off grid”. Does that deprive me of something? Does it make me a clueless redneck rube to ignore the global information flow? To the contrary; nothing from the grid is ever as urgent as it first appears.
Some people have never been off grid. A thought that’s mildly disturbing. Until you’ve gone “off grid” you might never know how little it all matters.
Then again lots of people have never seen a sunrise, fireflies, or a starry night sky. Another thought that’s mildly disturbing.
Luckily, going “off grid” is free and easy. You can go “off grid” any time you want. We’re living in one of the greatest possible times. We have an impressive global information flow available 24/7…and it comes with an “off” switch.