Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been thinking a bit about unplugging lately. In fact it's been a bit of a meme lately: first this story reports withdrawal symptoms in young people who give up electronic media for 24 hours; then this webcomic suggested things to do when the internet won't connect. Then, via @maryam_bakht, a story in the NY times about the digital revolution "making it fashionable to be rude" and people who "treat their phones like a Tamagotchi". And lastly, today, via @emckean, a tumblr blog post about renaming "airplane mode" on the mobile phone as "interesting persion mode" - using it to take yourself off the grid for a while to give your full attention to the person you're with.

I'm sure the fact that I used the word "meme" in the opening sentences there says something about my own need to unplug.

I had a bit of an overdose of the computer the other day and so extracted myself from the office to sit by the river and enjoy, for lack of a more poetic way to say it, the outdoors. It was lovely. I do encourage people to get outside in the fine weather and enjoy it. Remind yourself about fresh air and noise and RL*!

At the same time, sometimes we can't get away. We have to use a number of electronic media simultaneously and they can encourage productivity. Without Facebook and Twitter I wouldn't have got half of those links above. I am typing this, while listening to my "jazzstudycool" playlist on my ipod. And yesterday I had a productive stint study-buddying with a friend in NZ who was online at the same time. Although we couldn't hear or see each other, we assumed the other was studying and so felt the peer pressure to knuckle down, but at the same time had someone to throw the occasional comment to rather than detour onto social media.

So what's the point of this? Basically just to compile all the links above. Read them - they are interesting! And then force yourself from the computer for fifteen minutes, if only to make you appreciate it more when you get back on.

PS. And this is why working in a cafe works for me (via @lynneguist)

*Real Life to those of you who live so much less of your life online that you have no need for an acronym for the alternative.

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