We get it: you love your new toys, and the last thing you want is someone telling you to put them away.
But sometimes you just need to log off, power down, and get out into the “real world” (if you can find it)…
We’re going to present a roadmap here to help with this, as a reminder to ourselves as much as for you.
It starts with the rationale for unplugging: what we gain when we tune into other bandwidths around us.
Next, we offer up some resources to make unplugging more palatable, including how, who, and when.
Finally, we’ll (re)collect notions of “unpluggedness” in this space, to share and lift up more down time.
This isn’t really rocket science, folks! Unplugging is pretty basic, after all: stand up, stretch out, take a walk, start a project, call an old friend, read a new book, cook a meal, slow down and smell the roses. As in: “Go outside and watch real birds rather than playing with angry ones….” These activities can be engaged alone or with others — the key is to protect them and avoid being “digital zombies” by not reverting to a Pavlovian response to every ping from our devices:
By itself, the notion of unplugging offers no guarantee of finding happiness or well-being. Our analog lives can be filled with stress, obligations, hardships, and even more extreme conditions of poverty, illness, violence, and more. The noir-like dystopian strands in the technologies around us are palpable and anxiety producing. Against this, the digital realm offers a tempting, convenient, and socially acceptable place to escape from “reality” — but at what cost? We would suggest that the task could instead be more about making that real world less grim, rather than retreating into a virtual one.
This isn’t something we take lightly, and seeing the kind of structural changes necessary to make things better IRL won’t be easy. But doing this work can also be meaningful and help provide a sense of shared purpose and community that’s often missing from our hectic and distracted lives. In the digital sphere and the analog world alike, our central roles as consumers, users, inhabitants, participants, etc., gives us great power, if we exercise our capacity for choice with integrity and intentionality. This is our challenge … and our opportunity. Luckily, there are resources available to help us do this work, for real.
Here are a few notable methods & tools to aid your unpluggedness:
BORED & BRILLIANT (Note to Self): series on creative detachment
TIME WELL SPENT (resources): changes to help you “take control”
NOTHING (the app): “trying to disrupt humanity” (in a good way)
Plautus (~200BC): “The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours! Confound him too, who in this place set up a sundial to cut and hack my days so wretchedly into small portions.”
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859): “Supposing it were possible to get houses built, corn grown, battles fought, causes tried, and even churches erected and prayers said, by machinery — by automatons in human form — it would be a considerable loss to exchange for these automatons even the men and women who at present inhabit the more civilized parts of the world, and who assuredly are but starved specimens of what nature can and will produce.”
Albert Einstein (circa 1950): “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity…. The human spirit must prevail over technology.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967): “We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.”
Agatha Christie (1969): “‘To err is human’, but a human error is nothing [compared] to what a computer can do if it tries…”
“20 Great Technology Quotes to Inspire & Amaze” || Forbes Magazine