As I mentioned last week, an underlying theme has been emerging in my blog posts lately: the notion of doing instead of buying. For example, going for a bike ride instead of purchasing the newest gadget. I’m also beginning to notice in my readings and such, that more attention is being paid to the long-term effects of how we think and behave as a result of the information overload that is the Internet. I’ve provided links to some of the articles and books I’ve come by in my “research” in the past, and I’ve got a few more for you to contemplate, here and here.
And with that, I’m going to take this conversation to the next level and propose a day when we all pledge together to “unwire.” To turn off our phones, our computers, our TVs; to leave e-mails unanswered and status updates unchanged; to give our thumbs a rest and stop the texting and video-game playing for 24 hours. That’s right, you heard me: 24 whole hours. So, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You can do this. We all can. It’s easy: Just unplug and move on … for the day.
Instead, take those 1,440 minutes of now-disconnected time and go outside. Go for a hike. Walk on the beach. Take a camping trip. Tend to your garden. Write a letter and send it via “snail mail.” Volunteer in your community. Spend the day with family and friends. Reconnect. Do. Make. Go. Create. Experience. (Editor’s note: Be sure to check the PrincetonScoop newsletter before you disconnect from the computer. If you’re looking for inspiration on what to do on this day of unpluggedness, the newsletter is full of great options to dazzle and delight the whole family.)
If you want to take it a step further, pledge to stay off social networking sites for a week or longer, as well. (Shocking, I know.) I’m actually in the middle of doing that now myself and I’m already into Week 3. (Okay, I’ll admit I’ve checked my Facebook account every few days just in case someone has sent me a personal message, but I’ve not updated my status or looked at anyone’s vacation photos or racked my brain trying to come up with a witty response to someone’s post on the latest YouTube phenomenon.) And you know what? I really don’t miss it … at all.
Instead, I’ve been using that time to read books (the paper ones, of course) and truly focus on whatever tasks I have at hand instead of allowing the 24/7 flood of multimedia provided by the Web to distract, capture, and suck the life out of me. (Think about it: The “Web” is a pretty apt description. It traps you, grabs hold, and won’t let go, much like a spider snaring flies. Then slowly, your mind is sucked dry, as you no longer think deeply but instead in 30-second snippets.)
And so I’m officially setting the date for “The Great Unwire” as Saturday, October 2. It’s far enough out for the word to spread, and the weather should be fine for being out of doors. Of course, I recognize the irony in using the Internet to get the word out about unwiring from the Internet for a day, but hey, I’m not saying we should abandon it altogether. I’m simply suggesting we step away for a little while and reassess our use of it and it’s place in our lives. I think we’ll all be surprised at what we find when we do.
The writer of The Balanced Guy, Roman Horoszewski, is not particularly balanced but he’s trying to be. He makes an effort by not only doing “guy stuff,” but also by spending time with his three sons and wife while attempting to remain informed about the world around him. He and his family live in the Princeton, N.J. area. His blog is at thebalancedguy.blogspot.com.