Yesterday my mom forwarded me an article from the St. Paul paper detailing how Itasca State Park is experimenting this summer with free wireless Internet access. This makes me cranky. Itasca is the oldest state park in Minnesota, and also one of the busiest. Despite my frequent professions of love for another patch of paradise, Itasca is where I spent nearly all my childhood summer vacations. It's where I learned to fish, play cribbage, and paddle a canoe. It's where you can walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River simply by stepping across a few rocks.
The DNR has wired areas around three of the main park buildings and one campground. Apparently recent surveys of park users have shown that folks want their Internet, even while on vacation, even while sleeping in the woods and using outhouses. Here's how the park's web site frames the new service:
With the rush of walking across the Mississippi River headwaters still fresh in your mind, you can blog about your experience just a stone's throw away at the Mississippi Headwaters Plaza via high-speed wireless internet access available now at Itasca State Park.
Hmm. Okay, first of all? Walking across the headwaters is not a "rush." It takes 30 seconds. Very small children do it. It might be a rush for them, but if you're old enough to "blog about your experience," the experience itself will not be a rush. In addition, I hate the Facebook-generation appeals that imply, "If you didn't blog about it (or photograph it, or whatever), it didn't happen." Finally, from what the article suggests, folks using the service aren't really even members of the wired generation; they are more likely to be adults hopping online to check e-mail and stay in touch with the office. Which is more sad than cool. Can't we all get away from the office once in a while? How important are we that we can't take a break from email?
This week my beloved and I were supposed to be in the wilderness ourselves - no laptops or blogs or email or TV, but with ample entertainment in the form of lakes, trees, hiking trails, fishing, and family. I'm annoyed that all those people who get to be in the wilderness are wasting time online when they could be experiencing the "rush" of moose watching or dumping over in a canoe or telling tales of the one that got away. They could be having my vacation, but instead they're pretending to be at the office. How nuts is that?