My brother is an old-school kinda guy.
- He licks bones for a living. (Well, okay, he licks rocks to see if they’re bones; he’s an archaeologist.)
- His living room is shelved floor-to-ceiling with vinyl LPs.
- He hates Facebook and eschews all social media.
- He has a clam-shell flip phone that he’s used for a decade or more.
- He’d rather walk, head up, looking where he’s going than plod along, head down, letting his smartphone’s GPS tell him where he is.
My brother has a lot going for him.
And I think he’s on to something.
This week I’m on-call, 24×7, which means I am seriously plugged-in. I need a smartphone within reach at all times. If an alert comes in, I must confirm it within five minutes. I then have fifteen minutes to go online and respond directly to person who issued the alert. This means I must have a computer within easy reach. So, if I go out, I must either remain relatively close to home, or have a laptop with me and be near an internet connection. Thus:
- Running errands is generally okay, but I may have to drop-and-run mid-stride.
- Having dinner out is problematic, as it can be disrupted at a moment’s notice.
- Going to the cinema would be a crap-shoot. As would an evening with friends.
- Getting together for a Saturday night beer-fest is right out.
In other words, I am tethered to the internet by smartphone/laptop for a full week.
As a response during these on-call weeks, I notice that my behavior changes. I check in on social media much less. I rarely post there. My information portals tend to be non-technological–books, letters, newspapers–and I even lose track of where my iPad is. I cook more. I garden more. I sit on the back deck and enjoy the view, listen to the sounds of wind and neighbors, watch to the birds, feel the sensation of the air on my skin.
Which brings me back to my brother and his generally unplugged lifestyle.
I have a vacation coming up in late June: two weeks off with nowhere to go (our travel budget was demolished by the need to purchase a new car), and I wonder: what if I unplugged?
What if, for an entire week, I put down my smartphone and tablet, shut down my computer, turned off the PS3/Xbox, and lived a truly quiet life?
I’ve gone on “news diets” before, but never have I gone on a “tech diet.” It’s an interesting idea, and I’m actually sort of excited to give it a try.
To become free, you must first recognize that you’re shackled.