Digital sabbaticals: the new smoke break

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.
~Alice Roosevelt Longworth

The trendy thing in simple living now isn’t going car-free or living with just one hundred things. It’s going on “digital sabbaticals,” “technology breaks,” or whatever you want to call it.

Makes me wonder if anyone out there isn’t taking an analog sabbatical. Or if a “technology break” means stripping down naked and hanging out in the woods for a few hours. Hell of a way to spend a weekend, anyway. You’re not even allowed to use two sticks to start a fire.

Humor aside, I really do understand the point. Most simple living bloggers write for a white-collar middle-class audience. The type of people that can afford, and in fact often have, all those nifty little devices that keep you connected to the rest of the internet world. And with that connection people are constantly texting and calling and browsing the web and sending emails. Sure, it’s useful. But it also leaves one with a feeling of not being able to keep up. Fuck, I’ve got 30 “friends” on Facebook, most of them cats that don’t actually post, and I can’t keep up with that bullshit.

But the difference between me and all these other people is that I don’t want to. And neither, apparently, do these bloggers. But there are major differences…for one, I’m not a full-time blogger. This is not my job, it does not pay shit. This is what I do in my spare time. My job has me on my feet, busy, and nowhere near the Internet. I’m online for only a few hours a day. My phone is a simple pay-per-minute job. I like things this way.

The bloggers are speaking, more likely than not, to people who spend their working hours in front of a computer. They have the smart phones with the email and the Facebook and the Twitter and the need to keep up. These people (and I may very well be speaking to you, here) have their phones as more of a status symbol than a useful device. They don’t really need to keep up with email, they just feel they do. It’s “cool” to be overly busy just as it’s “cool” in college to complain about being broke even when you aren’t. Suggesting that they get rid of their phone is like suggesting they cut off their arm.

So enter the digital sabbatical. A trendy way for people to be cool by keeping their phone, cool by complaining about how busy they are, cool by complaining about how the digital world is “too connected,” and cool by doing something they can tell everyone about. “I’m not going to be answering email this weekend because I’m taking a digital sabbatical” sounds much better than “I’ll reply to your email when I’m in the mood and sitting in front of the computer.”

For some people the appeal may lie in completely unplugging for a specified period of time. Maybe they’re a binary sort of person…they’re either on or off. But I’m much more fond of my method of owning a simple phone, limiting my internet access to my desktop computer and regulating my “digital intake” that way. No need for bullshit, and I don’t feel guilty when I’m on the computer when I’m supposed to be off…because there’s never a time when I’m supposed to be off. Unless I’m at work, but that’s another story. For me, things happen when they happen. I don’t have a schedule other than work and bedtime. I don’t have specified periods of email-checking or internet browsing. Structure doesn’t suit me…I prefer things to happen or not happen more fluidly and organically.

I hear numerous people say “I left my phone at home today and it feels so great!” I’ve never grasped that. The phone being on my person or not does not change shit aside from possibly cause some panic if I have to be somewhere at a certain time and my “clock that occasionally calls people” isn’t available to remind me of the time. If one feels so great leaving one’s phone at home, then why not trade it in for something cheaper that gives you that disconnected pleasure all the time? And no, my audible thought of “I wonder how cold it will be tomorrow?” does not mean you need to get your phone out and check. I will find out for myself. Tomorrow. Because that’s how I roll. I’ll email you when I get home and turn the computer on if I remember to. You’ll just have to be patient.

The more important question, I think, is…how do digital sabbaticals work if you have a pacemaker?

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One Response to “Digital sabbaticals: the new smoke break”

  1. “The more important question, I think, is…how do digital sabbaticals work if you have a pacemaker?”

    In very short periods.

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