Valoween Unplugged: the aftermath

I remained unplugged from the time I woke up until 11:00pm today, per the terms of my last post. What did I do, you ask? Surprisingly, I didn’t unpack at all. Instead, I wrote in my paper journal, something that has not been done to a signficant extent in quite some time. I read. I visited my grandmother in the evening. I enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate. I completed a Sudoku-like puzzle on the back of a box of Frosted Mini Wheats.

But what did I actually do?

Since I eliminated my iPod and music devices, I didn’t have any music around, and the silence drove me a little crazy. I looked at the clock a lot. Part of this was to see how much longer I had until I could use my modern devices again. Another part of me was fidgeting because so much was spinning in my brain, and now that I had the chance to write it down, I didn’t know where to start. This behavior alone showed me that writing needs to be a habit, and it’s part of why I write in here every day, even if there’s nothing of interest to write about or even if what I write about is boring and just a few words long. Writing must become a habit. Unfortunately I’ve lost that habit in my paper journal. This must be fixed.

And if you’re wondering, all the blogs were still there when I got back. I still haven’t caught up with Twitter, though. Let the fun begin.

Introducing Valoween Unplugged

Technology is a huge part of our lives. From email to IM to Twitter to Facebook, we use these tools and the gadgets connected with them to communicate with others, keep in touch, and yes, even waste time. I email, though rarely. I chat with most of my friends with Pidgin. I keep up with my favorite blogs, an embarrassingly high number that was recently even higher. I blog about everyday life on LiveJournal, adding even more blogs to the already embarrassing number. I tweet, just like almost everyone else in the world. For most of my friends, a combination of these methods is our primary way of keeping in touch. (I’m also on Facebook, but as I’ve shown many times before, I’m already in touch with most of the people I care about through other means.)

These are all great, but they can eat up your time. Reading all the blogs I frequent can take up to two hours every day, and after finishing that and reading my email, more entries have popped up. Thanks to Echofon, I get notified when one of my Twitter followers have updated, and of course I check immediately. IMs blink at the bottom of the screen. Email waits to be read. More RSS feeds have updated. An entire day can be eaten by just taking care of basic Internet activity and not concentrating on offline needs. I haven’t finished a book since December. I’ve hardly written in my paper journal in ages, which became painfully obvious when I started writing this afternoon and couldn’t figure out where to begin because I’ve been writing so sporadically lately. This needs to change.

My life is changing as well. I moved back to a familiar place today, and I’m not sure where life will take me next. Boxes still clutter the floor in a different disarray than they did when I unpacked them because I don’t want to figure out where to put the stuff. A deliberate ordering is best, but that’s hard to achieve while streaming music from the Internet and constantly checking for new mail.

So I’ll create a situation where that’s possible, and I invite you to join me.

Tomorrow, the fourteenth of February, cut yourself off from your gadgets. That’s it. Your computer, your smartphone, your iPod, anything else you can think of. You decide how far you want to go with this. If you want to use the Walkman that you dug out from your basement last week, go ahead. I won’t tell.

Some of you might have other plans for tomorrow. I’m not telling you to cancel those if you join in this idea. Modify this plan to your needs if you so desire. After all, you’re the one who will gain from it.

Even if you can’t unplug for the entire twenty-four hours, set aside a chunk of the day to unplug that you’d normally be online. See what you gain from it. Here’s a confession: I technically won’t be unplugging for the entire day either–I’ll be back tomorrow night to write about the experience! But for accountability’s sake, I’ll be unplugging from the time I wake up tomorrow morning to 10:00pm.

Unplug yourself. See what happens. See you tomorrow night.