I've also noticed recently that all of this online activity seems to be rewiring my brain, leaving me with a critically short attention span. If an application or page takes too long to load, no problem, just click somewhere else on the glowing screen and fall down some interweb rabbit hole. My beloved blackberry provides me access to email and the web anytime, anywhere, and furthers the crack-like addiction to the satisfaction of clicking a button and receiving the payoff - more information, more entertainment, more of something different. Pavlov would be delighted to see the ubiquitous manifestation of his research theories come to life as a nation of online junkies replicates itself through the power of social networking.
I knew I had a problem when I had to physically restrain myself from picking up my phone to check email at a stoplight - not because I was expecting a message or particularly wanted to receive any of the potential content therein, but simply because it was something else to do while waiting for the green light. Really? I'm bereft without something to occupy my mind for all of 30 seconds?
So, at sundown on Friday, March 4, I accepted the challenge. Could I unplug for 24 hours?
Here is a chronicle of my efforts to overcome the urge to plug into the matrix:
First, a fail... we were out running some errands when the sun went down Friday evening. D stopped to peruse some vintage hi-fi equipment at a local shop. I stayed in the car and took advantage of the time to call up our favorite pizza joint to order up the evening's dinner. What?! That's a perfectly legitimate reason for picking up the phone... actually making a call. But what wasn't strictly necessary was then opening up the google reader app to catch up on some blog feeds while I waited for D to return. I justified my actions with an assurance that my day of unpluggedness wouldn't really begin until I got back home that evening.
On the drive home, we encountered some truly impressive rain showers, and D mentioned he wanted to check the radar on wunderground when he got home to see what the storm front looked like. "Ah ha," I thought, "I can do that right on my phone." Really Keenie? You need to look at a radar image on your smartphone to confirm that, yeah, that sure is some heavy rain... that you're driving through at this very moment?! (Relax - D was driving, so in any case I wasn't going to be DWO - driving while online.)
Arriving home, I picked up a pen and the New York Times crossword. That's a nice analog activity to engage your brain, I thought. However, I am firmly in the camp that likes to finish the crossword at all costs, even if it involves cheating by going to 'the Google' (as D and I affectionately refer to it ever since W's gaffe). So after working through the puzzle for a bit, I got stuck. My fingers were twitching and I cast sly glances at the laptop. Surely it couldn't hurt to look up just one little crossword clue, right? But, loyal readers, you will be glad to know I remained steadfast.
I woke on Saturday morning, and here is a brief list of the things I could NOT do because I was unplugging:*
* via notes take with actual pen and paper(!)
- review the available services at a spa I'm visiting with a friend next weekend;
- find out what I'd missed from my bleeps when I was too busy to stay caught up on blogs during the week;
- figure out the consequences if I'd really lost my skipass, rather than simply misplacing it (fortunately, I used some of that unplugged time to - gasp! - get off my butt and actually locate it);
- find out what the heck change at Warren Miller Productions resulted in nearly the entire film that I watched on Saturday morning, Playground, being backed by a thrash metal soundtrack like every other ski/snowboard adventure video, rather than the sublime musical choices that I remembered from the good old days;
- look up Levi's Curve ID jeans, which I'd recently heard about on a daytime talk show and was reminded of by an ad in Vogue, which I was reading as an attempt to distract myself from the siren song of the interwebs;
- and last, but certainly not least, work on my tax return (for which I use Turbo Tax - seriously, if you haven't tried it you totally should. It very nearly makes tax returns painless - well, as painless as a tax return ever could be.)
So, did I have any great revelations from my own participation in the National Day of Unplugging? Sadly, no. But at least I proved to myself that, although it posed some mental difficulty, I could actually back away from the laptop for a while.
Signing off now before the monkey on my back strengthens his chokehold.