It was the first time I’d watched a group of strangers who weren’t making their way through a physical wilderness become invested in the humanity of another being so quickly.
This week saw the launch of The Disconnect, a high-concept online magazine that can only be read offline. If that sounds curious, it is. Reading it on the subway this morning, I was delighted: for once, I could switch my phone to Airplane mode and read without being penalized for having spotty wi-fi. But that’s not what we really mean when we talk about “disconnecting” from the internet. When we talk of disconnecting, we mean it on a grander scale. To disconnect from the internet is not to just go without it, it’s to reconnect with life outside of it. Lucy Bellwood, in a lovely piece in The Disconnect’s inaugural issue, talks about the first immense world of connectivity she fell in love with—the wilderness. Treks through the Sierra Nevadas and time spent in Joshua Tree provided her with a deep well to draw from, literally, in her later career as a cartoonist. As she wrote, “These excursions showed me that taking people into the wilderness can totally upend an established social order.” In an elegant parallel, she realizes the internet “is a wilderness unto itself.”