“Yes, it’s all very paranoiing …and now they even have a machine that can tell if you’re THINKING.
“It’s called a TV.
“If it’s OFF, you’re GUILTY.”
— From The SubGenius Psychlopaedia of Slack, Rev. Ivan Stang, ed.
Right now I’m coming down from three days without internet access, a cell phone, or having the television on. It has been glorious. I would have gone screen-free if I didn’t have a Powerpoint presentation due for school and some writing that needed to be edited and formatted. I was incredibly productive, filling up a composition book with free-flowing words, brainstorming on my white boards, taking walks in the sunshine, sitting on my patio reading books, having conversations with my wife, even roasting a turkey. Yeah. It was like being at work and being on vacation at the same time.
My friends have finally been trained to not panic, accepting my desire to be unplugged as a quirk of character. It is a vast improvement over last year, where I had someone freak out on me because Katie and I made ourselves unavailable for a whole week on our first anniversary, an intolerably long period as the internet measures time. Social media etiquette, according to some, means that we must be broadcasting the minutiae of our lives to the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When did we turn control of our lives to social media, by the way? I don’t remember voting on that or agreeing to it. It’s just how things are done, I’m told. We keep ceding more and more control of our lives to these devices, and the corporations and relative strangers who operate them by remote and push the information they want us to see in our faces.
I don’t understand why we live the way we do, voluntarily bombarded with advertisements and misinformation disguised as news and commentary meant to strike fear into our hearts. Then we turn around and wonder why so many people are suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. I’d rather have the peace and quiet, enjoy the Slack of just working hard at my job and studying diligently for school. I’d rather have some quality contact with friends and family, rather than the impersonal quantity of tweets spewed forth into the ether to be largely ignored and un-commented upon (but proving, somehow, that I’m still alive and that I still care).
As I gain more experience at managing my online life, which really boils down to school and business needs peppered with some personal correspondence, I’m realizing that I can probably get away with only touching the internet two or three times a week. This makes me, I know, a terribly antisocial person, practically a hermit by modern standards. I’m planning to unplug for a full week next month (our second anniversary). My ultimate goal is to be producing more meaningful writing and little works of art, so that what I do put out into the world has greater value-add than obligatory regular status updates, more signal, less noise.