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Where cell phones won’t work

December 20, 2012

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park

If you harbored any doubt that cellphones are increasingly running our lives, consider this: Survey data compiled by Wilson Electronics show that 15 percent of Americans take calls during sex. While 27 percent of participants over age 25 consider it acceptable to text while eating, 12 percent say it’s okay to text while using the bathroom.

Getting off the grid has become a luxury. With a cell phone functioning as everything from a daily diet log to an alarm clock, it’s easy to forget that less than a decade ago, just 15 percent of the world’s population had one. Today, that figure is closer to 87 percent, with more than 5.9 billion global subscribers, according to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union. The report also indicates that one-third of the word’s population uses the Internet, up from about one-fourth in 2009.

In the U.S., nearly 293 million Americans—or more than 95 percent of the population—were mobile subscribers by June 2010, making 2.2 trillion minutes worth of calls and sending 1.8 trillion text messages, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Some 77.3 percent of the population is online.

Disconnecting, many believe, requires a trip to some remote part of the world—Patagonia, say, or the Gobi desert—or removing yourself to a tropical island. But it’s also possible to find pockets of isolation in our own backyard, for example, outside Los Angeles or on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. These are our picks for places to give technology a rest.