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The Downside of Unplugging

7:00 am EEST (GMT+3). This is the June 26 2020 daily proof of life post. Today I want to talk about the downside of unplugging. There is one, but it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Unplugged

It’s not being out of the loop, or not having contact with friends. Unplugged doesn’t mean you can’t still be in touch with people, it just means you’re not accessible 24/7. Which in pre-internet days was the norm. It would be weird if people were calling your house or showing up at your door before a certain hour of the morning, or after a certain time at night. There are no such boundaries with email, text messages, and social media.

No, the issue is becoming sort of unstuck in time. I already work from home, which people in COVID lockdown now understand a lot better. While I stick to a schedule, there are no “external markers”. I don’t have to commute, or punch a clock, so time starts to become abstract. Weekends aren’t that different from weekdays. With the pandemic, there aren’t any extracurriculars going on. So one day is essentially the same as the next.

It has been years since I’ve watched anything on television in real time. Okay, I’m not counting the Castle Ball on Finnish Independence Day or the live New Year’s Eve concert. Those are exceptions. I don’t watch television. Everything is on-demand streaming content. There’s no senese that if I’m watching such-and-such show it must be Thursday.

Untethered

Then there’s the fact that it’s summer in Finland. The sun never sets. As I’m writing this it’s around midnight, and the sky is blue. There are stilll people down on the beach. It’s a little dim because the sun is all the way in the north, but it’s still above the horizon. Until you get used to it, the eternal daylight can mess with you just as badly as the Long Dark in the winter.

You’d think the bullet journal would help, but since I switched to a weekly dashboard I’m more concerned with what need to be done next than with what day it is. Which feels like the right focus for me at the moment, because I’m getting a lot done without a lot of distractions.

So what kept me anchored? Blogging. When I was doing two or three posts per day on the regular, it gave me a sense of what day it was. I was writing proof-of-life posts in the morning when I got up. Since I started batching them (and this post was begun 10 days ago, before midnight on 17 June 2020) there’s no direct connection between what I’m writing and the day it’s posted. I will write four or five of these things in a stretch, schedule them.

Then I can be off the internet for days. The downside of unplugging is that I’m not getting news the moment it happens. I’m not connecting with people in real time. There is a real sense of being in control of communications.

Unconcerned

It’s peaceful, absolutely. But I honestly had to look at the calendar to figure out what the date was, and what day of the week it is. There’s something weird an unnatural about it, until I realized that it honestly isn’t all that important.

All of us have spent a good deal of 2020 sorting our priorities. We’ve had to sort out what’s essential and what isn’t. All of us have learned to do without things, realizing that much of what were were used to never truly needed. Free from artifice and expectation, it’s really not all that important whether today is Wednesday or Sunday. I get to put all of that aside and focus on just living.

The Downside of Unplugging

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