“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…
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