It’s amazing what unplugging from the world does.
For the past couple of days, I’ve been on something of a forced Internet sabbatical. I say forced only because it comes with the territory of moving into a new apartment and getting all the nuts and bolts figured out.
While my work necessitates the need for email and Web searches, since then, I’ve unplugged in the evenings. The time gained by doing so has been remarkable.
Our society has promoted the greatness of the Internet. It’s a tool for research, entertainment and for networking. Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, YouTube and the millions of other sites out in cyberspace command our attention almost continuously, from when we wake up to when we reluctantly turn off the monitor.
Just in the past two days, I’ve read a neglected book; cleaned things so they’re near spotless, cooked an incredible dinner and had a full night’s sleep as a result of not having an Internet connection in my new apartment. In all, I think a full four hours appeared out of nowhere.
It begs the question – how did I, and society, become so reliant on a bunch of bytes?
As a child, we had one computer, and that was when computer games consisted of Myst, Doom and solitaire. There was also a Star Trek theme on that computer that I loved, but that’s a story for another time.
I was limited to an hour on there, before having to give it up. After all, it was a family computer, much like the family radios and televisions back in the early 20th century. The rest of the time, I was outdoors, or reading. And boy, did I read a lot.
Some friends have the same reaction when they think about it. “I spend how much time on there?!”
We are so engrained that we need this invisible information highway for our survival. A FoxTrot comic earlier this year painted the best picture of that. Paige, the tech savvy, popular young daughter needed to consistently make her rounds on Twitter, Facebook, email and Tumblr, only to start the process over again.
Even today, when trying to go out on a camping trip, children complain about not having a computer to entertain them. I speak with experience, as we often took a laptop with us when camping. But now I would give a good bit of money to spend a week away in the woods, unplugged from the world.
It really comes full circle, doesn’t it?
When we’re young, we want to be included and a part of things. We need to know what’s going on.
As the years pass, that need fades, and we seek refuge from the world. We want to enjoy and savor.
So, I challenge you. Spend an evening without the Internet. Unplug from your smartphone, your computer, your television. Kick back with a book or do something constructive. Instead of chatting online, try talking in person.
Heaven forbid we actually talk to someone face to face, looking at each other.
Most people aren’t terribly rough on the eyes, with the exception of Helen Thomas.