Digital detox

Posted on November 01, 2009 by Steve

Last night at midnight I completed a week offline. Not completely offline, though that was the goal. Conversation over the obligation to share one's experiences via Twitter, Facebook, blogging and messaging, rather than simply experiencing one's experiences, led me to wonder how much I would miss a connection to the online world. Saturday night I did a whirlwind tour through my Bloglines subscriptions, the most popular YouTube videos of the week (always a disappointment), and a glance at Facebook. Then I disconnected and went to bed by midnight.

Early on I realized I would have to check e-mail if I wanted to remain functional in society, and decided that ten or fifteen minutes of personal e-mail a day would do no harm. By the end of the week I had expanded that allowance, and had cheated a bit, but overall spent just an hour or two on the net, far less than the self-reported national average of twelve.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't miss much. Google News, a favorite downtime filler, turns out to be mostly filler. I get better conversation starters from podcasts, especially the reliably worthwhile Radiolab. I finished a novel, completed a cryptic crossword, and did a bit of artwork. A friend asked if I was watching more TV than usual, and I confessed that I was. I saw a Subaru ad with Basia Bulat's "Before I Knew" (once linked here!) and resisted a needless urge to confirm the fact online, or mention it there.

Last night, I used a bit of the time shift to catch up, and felt a little more than usual the pointlessness of the Facebook Wall. It goes without saying that I'm online again, but I plan to put my new perspective to good use and resist the impulse to validate my existence over TCP/IP.