Friday, April 9, 2010

Digital Detox Week: Unplugging the Beast

Last week I ran across a suggestion organized by AdBusters: Unplug yourself from all your digital and internet devices for a Digital Detox Week. Sounds like something I could use more/less of so of course I promptly went back to evil FaceBook and forgot about it. Luckily, I had written it down in my calendar. It starts Monday, April 19th, 2010.

It's a "nice idea" but will it work? Is it possible? And more importantly, am I willing to make it happen??

I think it will work.

Taking a break from the way we usually do things can give us new perspective and fresh insight, a mental break. We don't even see our life as it is sometimes, so buried in the virtual world are we. The digital world has become the air we breathe. Taking a step back... nay, taking a huge step back will give room to get past the nattering of our mind - has anybody sent me an email/said something clever/done something shocking or newsworthy? - and see what our lives have become. There will be space to consider what we really want our lives to be like, rather than floating through our days trying to keep up with the flood of information and endless entertainment.

I think it is possible.

On those occasions that I have been backpacking and far in the wild (without a cellphone or iPod, of course!), I have found myself sinking into a more observant and meditative state. I renew my contact with my and the world's deepest cycles of eat sleep work breathe play. And I come back to my everyday light with new eyes and an appreciation of the principles and qualities of a life of clear and simple purpose. On those rare occasions that I am cut off from the internet, it can be refreshing to focus on other things. So unplugging for a week on purpose is likely to also give me a more observant and clear-eyed state.

I am willing to make it happen.

I tell myself I am. I know it will be good for me, BUT... Ha. The "but" is of no real consequence or substance. I am used to allowing myself a generous amount of disconnection through reading on the internet. I am a bit scared to unplug. I need some of that entertainment to distract and sooth myself. Perhaps that all the more reason to do it. Like going to bed at a reasonable hour, I can make it happen, if rarely. Somehow, I think this will be easier.

I think it needs to happen.

Notice that this is a question that I skipped right over as a given. Yes, yes, yes. It does need to happen. I get so caught in the digital world. Perpetually exciting and tantilizing with one more contact, one more piece of information, one more connection just out of reach. One more creation, one more sentence, one more distraction. One more thing taking me away from the equally important but often more neglected rest of my life.

. . .

I think I will have an easier time of it if I set myself some targets and can push myself past the initial resistance to take action.

It helps me is to set a target time to be off the computer or into bed.

It also helps to actually turn off or put my computer to sleep for the duration. If I don't turn it off, I am periodically tempted to mosey by and see what is going on, but once I click "Sleep," the big screen goes dark, and I'm forced to get up and walk away. Happily enough, once I submit to leaving it off, it loses some pull on me. I can avoid sitting down in front of the machine and am free to enjoy or focus on something else in the real world.

Of course, I don't have a job that requires use of the internet or computer. I don't have a palm pilot or any sort of fancy phone-camera-internet-pager device that keeps me tethered.

I don't have complete confidence that I will be able to restrain myself from checking email at least every so often, so I am prepared to give myself one timed online session a day. Maybe every other day. We shall see how I do.

I am hopeful, though, that once I accept my unplugged state, I can release my digital preoccupations and move on to other occupations.

It will be interesting to see what else I do that week!

It starts Monday, April 19th. Anybody else interested?

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