I'm no technophile. I do get excited about some of the latest new gadgets or apps, but it's not all wine and roses. Wikipedia defines the technophile as someone who "sees most or all technology as positive, adopting technology enthusiastically, and seeing it as a means to potentially improve life and combat social problems." Yeah. It's just not that positive a relationship for me. No. My relationship with technology makes me more of a techno-junkie or a techno-slave. I feel the short term benefits of it. I get a rush, a high, when I try something new, when I connect, when I reunite with old friends, when I get comments on my photos, when I read about new ideas, but ultimately I feel overwhelmed and controlled by it all. I'm beaten into submission. It's the button I must perpetually push or else... I don't know what else, but it won't be good. Yes, I was also a LOST-slave, but I'm finally free of that show. And that's the thing here. Unlike a true technophile, I long to be free of technology's reach. I want to unplug.
My tech-life is ridiculous. I'm addicted, and overpowered. It dominates and overrides my life. I want to live naturally, and parent respectfully. But I'm forever absent. Some days, my son hardly sees my face as it's blocked by his view of my computer or phone (that either he's using or I am). I don't even have it in me to do anything anymore. Anything. My house is falling apart. I can't manage play time with my boys. My art and writing have been abandoned. My salsa business is being ignored (as are all the emails for it that are sitting unanswered), in fact all my emails are unanswered. But I can't bring myself to actually respond to them. It just seems so overwhelming. I'm so connected to so much of the vastly wide space of the internet, that to act, to do, or even to make effective use of parts of it becomes a nearly impossible task. I have information overload; I've so much of it constantly pouring into my brain, that I can't bring myself to stop, focus, and respond to something.
I need to be free. I need myself back. I do love the connectedness I feel with the world, my family, and long lost friends. As a former pseudo-military brat, it's such a relief to finally know the family I didn't grow up with better and to be reconnected with all of the friends I said goodbye to. I'm less anxious about losing things and people now. But I'm losing myself and my own life in exchange. And worst of all I'm losing my precious time with my babies.
It has to stop. NOW.
I've stopped some of it already. I read my blogs a lot less often -- sometimes I go weeks in between reads. I stopped checking Twitter, formerly my only news source, and that quieted my mind slightly. It's a relief anyway to be away from the news, which means a lot less information and a lot less negativity in my life. I've taken several email vacations too. But it isn't enough. I WANT OUT. I WANT TO BE ENTIRELY DISCONNECTED from the virtual world and reconnected to the real world. I want to know what that's like.
So I decided to give myself a challenge. Disconnect. How long? Weeks, months, a year? I'm not sure. Maybe I'll try a little at the time and see how long the ride goes. I thought it would be fun to do it as a personal and social experiment, which means I'd be bringing you along with me. That means I'll be blogging. Very plugged in, I know, but maybe I can make that my exception.
So what else can I do? What should my rules be?
Here's what I'm thinking about. If you have ideas for this challenge, let me know. (Anyone who wants to participate in the challenge too is welcome. Other perspectives would be great to hear about.)
1. No more Facebook. Zero.
2. No more blogs. (other than limited access to update this one)
3. No more online shows -- I'm bored with them all anyway.
4. No reading from anything other than real books and print.
5. No communication that isn't live in person or phone call.
6. No email, just snail mail.
7. Possibly ditch the cell and get a land line.
8. Try to cut off my eldest from all his videos and games too.
9. Real cookbooks.
10. Real reference books.
11. Brick n Mortar shopping.
12. Real invitations.
13. Real groups.
14. No texts.
One major problem I have is what to do about photos of my kids for my family? My boys' grandparents range from 3 hours to several countries away, how will I make my experiment mine and keep from punishing them too much in the process? Suggestions? Furthermore, photography is one of the few art forms I still frequently dabble in. And it's all digital nowadays. How can I continue to work on that without spending hefty tech time? Do I make allowances for tech time for these things? Maybe I restart my personal blog and post my family photos there for maintaining limited connectedness? Or maybe I stay true to this idea and order prints and send copies to grandparents. Hmm... can I allow myself to order them online? It's so much easier than going to the photo store with a SD card.
Oh my god. The reality is setting in. If I spend lots of lovely, newly freed up time knitting, I won't have ravelry to browse patterns and keep my knitting notes. If I want to get a craft idea for a project I can do with my boys, I can't look online. And how will I find answers to my questions or the names of books to read? How will I know about events I'm invited to or keep up on my friends' lives? ACK! Maybe I don't want to do this. Forget everything you read above. Technology, I give in. I will remain your slave. Beat me some more, I'll take it, I won't run away. Just don't let me live far from the warmth of your convenience, connection, and information.