Unplugged: Thoughts

I enjoyed this experiment.  It was suggested that we unplug from sundown on Friday to Sundown on Saturday.  I refrained from texting, checking email and internet surfing.  I did check my email Saturday night; but, continued the “non surfing” into Sunday afternoon.

I discovered a few things.

  1. On Saturday night when I checked my email there were about 40 emails waiting for me.  2 were of a personal nature, 1 was an online bill notification and the rest were newsletters, store coupons and other marketing notices.  It took me about 5 minutes to delete everything I was not interested in, read my personal mail and star the bill to be dealt with later.  On Sunday night, I spent about 10 minutes responding to the two emails and setting a date for the bill to be paid automatically.  This 10 minutes also included deleting new marketing emails.
  2. Not texting forced my girlfriend to call me!
  3. The most interesting discovery came from the lack of internet surfing.  Anya’s 40th birthday is next weekend and I’ve been told not to purchase a gift because we are going on a trip in April.  I decided to make her a painting and put it off until this past weekend because I knew I’d have the whole weekend to work on it since she had to go out of town.  When I realized how much I actually got done and how I managed to persevere through the spots when I ordinarily would take a break and surf the net or watch tv, I pushed back the no surfing to late Sunday afternoon.  It told me volumes about my creative process and how I actually could power through the slow or blocked spots where I felt like I didn’t know what to do next.  (color, composition, content, etc)

What is the overall things learned?  Email is not my problem.  I have done a good job of keeping what comes in to my inbox at least somewhat relevant to me.  I maintain, not an inbox zero, but about an inbox 10, meaning there are rarely more than 10 items lingering in my inbox.  So, email is not a problem.  Texting is not my problem.  I only have about 4 people who I text with, Anya being the most prolific but even then it’s not much and if my noise alert is enabled, I don’t keep checking my phone.

Internet surfing is the area where I’d like to steal back some of my time.  I’m going to try and go surfing free from Friday eves to Sunday eves and see how that impacts the quality of my life.  I did notice that I was pretty damn happy last night as I snapped a picture of the finished painting!

We can’t unplug at work; but, unplugging more at home could improve the quality of our lives and in turn boost our productivity and happiness at work.  I’m usually a lot happier heading to work on Mondays if I feel like I didn’t waste my weekend watching TV or on the internet or playing video games.   On my last post, I mentioned that I didn’t have any friends in Asbury Park.  Sunday, early evening I called my neighbor to chat about a summer garden project we are contemplating and she invited me down to her place to see her kitchen renovation.  Ordinarily, I would have said no, thinking that I’d rather relax on my last evening before starting up work; but, I said, yes and had a pleasant couple of hours chatting with my neighbor.  I enjoyed her company and was glad I had agreed to go.

One more thought:  I had the need to look up a phone number; but, I really didn’t want to turn my laptop on for fear I’d get sucked in; so, I actually used the good old yellow pages.  We are shifting more ordinary things, like looking up a phone number, checking the weather, listening to music to our computers.  I even use my computer for phone calling.  What are the ramifications of this?  A few weeks ago, Anya and I were waiting for a subway and she whipped out her cell phone and started playing Tetris.  I was slightly annoyed; but, mostly fascinated by this.  She is not a techie.  She doesn’t own a TV.  I don’t think she has ever owned a gaming system.  She has an iphone; but, mostly uses it as a phone with the occasional weather lookup, directions, looking for a business using GPS.  She texts.  She doesn’t Tweet or check in at locations.  I don’t even think she checks Facebook on it.  Yet, here she was playing a game on it while she was waiting.  My parents own smartphones now, Droid X.  Are they going to play games while they wait at the Doctor’s office?  Is there even a significance to this cultural shift?  My mother asked me if I was going to get a Kindle and the reaction in my head was immediate and forceful.  I thought:  NO MORE GADGETS.  All these gadgets require energy and work.  You can’t just pick up the book and read it.  It has to be downloaded and transferred to your device.  You have to make sure your device is charged.  There is a management involved.  Management that usually involves you connecting to a computer.

I had a friend who received an ipod as a gift and asked me to help her get her music on it.  I’m not a fan of iTunes; but, I spent time wrangling with her iTunes and burning CDs and showing her how it worked.  She set up to playlists: one for the gym and one for bus riding.  She has never changed or added anything and this was about 5 years ago.  When I asked her about it, she said:  I can’t be bothered.  Her iPod battery finally died and she never replaced it, though she admits that she sometimes misses having it at the gym.

Are we going to reach a saturation point?  A point where we won’t be able to stand being engaged with an electronic thing for one more task?

I consider myself a techie person; but, I know that I’m happier the less time, outside of work,  I spend engaged with technology.

3 thoughts on “Unplugged: Thoughts

  1. Wow. Dan Wilensky, author of “Musician” who had a program at the Middletown library said just this the other day.

    People get tired of the latest and greatest technology and move on to other things…people will stop looking at their cell phones while crossing the street and realize that the sky is blue again…

    I’m not so sure…I think it’s a happy medium, somewhere.

    • Yeah. I think there is a happy medium too. I realized there are things i do online now that I used to offline: pay bills, make phone calls. Those are conveniences I’m not willing to give up, especially the bill paying. I am way more conscience of my bank account and what’s going in and coming out, than I ever was before online banking, which is a great thing. I think it is the non-productive time spent with gadgetry that I need to cut back on: random game playing, internet surfing, etc. I have thought of giving up my smart phone; but, enjoy its conveniences too much. I rely heavily on the calendar notifications and GPS. And some gadgets do require work: transferring audio books and music to my mp3 is something I find i’m too lazy to do lately, so it sits unused. I’m a firm believer in : Everything in Moderation. I think it applies nicely to technology too.

  2. Pingback: Unplug. Live a little. « Civil Civil Servant

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