Inspired by Nicholas Carr’s article Is Google Making Us Stupid? and Jess’ blog, I began to question if I was a “pancake person.” Do I rely on technology too much? Has my attention span become worse? I decided to spend a weekend unplugged from technology. My friend Rebecca does it every year and writes about it. I’ve also read about doing it on a few minimalist blogs (I am not a minimalist, as my large vintage studio pottery collection shows, but I appreciate their ideals). There’s even a holiday called National Day of Unplugging.
Because I didn’t want to go into technology withdrawal, I decided to give myself a simpler challenge: no Internet or social media for 48 hours.
Note: since this blog was very labor intensive it’s written informally in the format of expanded notes I wrote on my phone all weekend.
I gave it all up at 7pm. Afterwards I tried to keep myself busy by listening to Matthew E White, making pizza, & watching DVRed shows. I really wanted to tweet about the music on Awkward. I did lots of note taking. I read NY Magazine & Entertainment Weekly since I have to do something at all times while watching TV. Usually it’s blogging, internetting, schoolwork, magazines, phone usage all at the same time.
I realized I normally I don’t read a whole article–maybe just a few lines and then I skip to the next one. It’s like I just want to get it done. I can’t look up things I’m reading about like restaurant menus.
I keep checking phone out of habit but don’t open any apps. I just check the time. It feels really awkward. I was early for a haircut & my first thought was that I’d have to wait with nothing to do and get frustrated because I’d have to sit in silence.
I was invited to a wedding where I didn’t know anyone (my husband was hired as the photographer). As I was getting ready, I really wanted to tweet “is a denim shirt wedding appropriate?” but just changed. I kept thinking of funny things to tweet.
Since I didn’t know anyone, I would usually play on my phone but I brought a book. When I told PJ I was reading Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher he went into a hilarious bit about The Edge from U2 sending Carrie Fisher postcards about Star Wars & how she should see his band. I really wanted to tell everyone on Twitter about it but couldn’t.
Without my phone I realized I am never going with PJ to another photo gig (he only does weddings once a year or so for friends, mostly he does bands). He never has time to hang out with me. I sat in the car the whole time reading my book and drinking homebrew from a mason jar that PJ brought out to me.
I was generally too busy running fun Sunday errands to think about any of it too much. In the afternoon, I opened my laptop for the first time–I worked on Lindsey’s mix, watched Homeland. I did get a little futzy during TV and it was so hard not to check my phone. But here’s the thing when you cut yourself off from social media–you don’t write so no one responds to you. It’s kind of like you don’t exist unless you are tweeting, posting photos, whatever.
I got frustrated many times by little things like wanting to look bands up at record store, stuff I find thrifting or bits I’m reading. A life without imdb is one not worth living.
I absolutely think it made time spent with my husband better. No distractions. We got beers at Legend and I didn’t bring my phone out once!
I worked on a crossword puzzle, read one book, two issues NY Mag, and one EW. For someone who has been a slower print reader since the age of the Internet this is amazing.
I definitely missed Twitter, fb & my Google Reader. I missed interacting with my friends. I like the reassurance, the self esteem boosts you get when someone replies to your tweets. But I also like seeing what they’re up to–looking at their Instagram photos or their tweets.
I don’t think I will give up social media and the Internet again any time soon but I will be more conscious of my future use. I want to read more–I don’t because I say I don’t have any time (mostly true ,due to school) but I think I can push some stuff back & start attacking my virtual & real life bookshelves.