Category - personal
Somewhere I read about a study that revealed that the typical digially-addicted person can go about four minutes before they have to check their gizmo again.
I know the impuse… all to well.
I know what it feels like to slow down at a red light and immediately reach for the mobile device that’s mounted on my dashboard.
Or what it feels like to hit a lull in a conversation and cast a sideward glance at my gizmo…. hey, maybe I’ve got a new e-mail or a notification on Facebook!
And I know what it feels like to retrieve whatever is waiting for me out there in the digital firmament – only to to discover that all that’s waiting for me is near-spam, people and organizations clamoring for my attention even as I’m clamoring for something to be attentive to.
Only now I know what it feels like to feel the urge to check. To feel the urge countless times a day but but be relieved of the temptation because there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.
I have deactivated my primary email account from both of my mobile gizmos (iPhone and iPad); I have also deleted Facebook from both devices.
So now when I feel the urge… it’s sorta like taking a long walk off a short digital pier: I feel the urge, just like I have for years, but as soon as it strikes the impulse part of the cortex (or limbic system?), some other part remembers: “There’s nothing there. Don’t bother.”
So now the temptation is a phantom – like the impulses and sensations an amputee feels from a missing limb. Like I’ve amputated my gizmos.
Again, the analogy to alcohol and drug recovery seems apt: If this concerted attempt at behavior modification – and focus/concentration recovery – is going to succeed, then it makes sense to treat this as the first 30 days of digital abstinence. Or, at least, near abstinence. Mobile, abstinence, at least.
And, again, in the parlance of ‘the program,’ I had a bit of a “slip” today. I logged onto Facebook this morning just long enough to see if there was anything pressing in the form of a notification or message.
There wasn’t. Just the usual random trivia. But I sat there scrolling through it for five or ten minutes. Just like sidling up to a bar and saying “I’ll just have a sip…”
So I guess that 30 days starts again tomorrow…
“We live in a media culture where we are buried in information,
but we know nothing.
— Ken Burns
Before I left I started disconnecting.
First I Googled the phrase “off the grid” and found images to use for my cover and profile photos on Facebook. I have not looked at Facebook since.
Then I posted an auto response to my email that said I was gonna be “off the grid” for a few days – “off the grid” being defined these days as “no signal” on my mobile devices. There was still plenty of electricity at our destination – and WiFi in a lot of locations – but I made a conscious and deliberate decision to be “unplugged” for a few days.
As we were driving down to the island – about 11-1/2 hours with stops along the way – I went a step further in my digital rehab: I removed the Facebook apps from my iPhone and iPad.
Wednesday night, once Ann and I had settled into our accommodations (provided by AirBnB, naturally…), I opened my e-mail one more time, cleared the inbox as well as I could and closed the application. I haven’t checked e-mail since. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without looking at email in about 10 years. Probably longer.
Nor have I been on Facebook. Or Twitter (which I don’t use nearly as much as Facebook anyway). Or LinkedIn or Pinterest. And I can’t really say now that I miss any of it.
I don’t miss the deluge of digital narcissism – including my own – or the constant comparison of my virtual existence to that of my friends and colleagues.
In the absence of these distractions, what I have discovered is a measure of continuity in my own thought processes that is both strange and exhilarating. I am now in the midst of a giant leap in the recovery of my own space and time.
And I might owe it all to kayaking…
* * *
…what do you think of me?
Back in May, 2014 I had occasion to sit down and chat with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on medical billing solutions, cloud-based platforms, software solutions and much more; also be sure to also check out their Tech Conference Calendar).
So here’s 8 minutes of me regaling Clark with stories about…. me.
The occasion was the Wordcamp (WordPress) conference last spring here in Nashville. We got to talking and I started to tell Clark him a bit of my background and what all I’ve been doing for the past two decades since I arrived in Nashville. Apart from being seen at at lot of these tech and start-up events with my camera, I tend to travel a bit under the radar and incognito…. so I suspect Clark was a bit surprised at some of the stories. And I didn’t even get to the part about how “I used to be Jimmy Buffett...” (long before I got to Nashville).
I saw this posted to my bulletin board last week…
…and since I’ve been observing the 20th anniversary of my arrival in Nashville, I put it up on Facebook and Twitter earlier today as a #TBT (Throw-back Thursday and no, we’re not talking about small fish):
Notes from a productive Sunday:
A few minutes ago, I posted this to my Facebook:
So I’m going through some notes and I find one from Sal Cincotta that says ‘My clients are not looking for a photographer. They’re looking for an artist.” Mantra for the week? Check.
And then this showed up:
I think I’m detecting a trend here. If not a downright theme for the coming week…
Turns out there’s an app for that: