PARALLEL UNIVERSE: The Joy of Non-connectivity: For a Few Days I Found Freedom Without the Internet

  •  By David M. Kinchen

Truth be told, I’m not the most wired person, although I’ve been on the Internet since it became common in the 1990s. I don’t have a smart phone, only two pay-as-you go Motorolas; I don’t text; I post to my Facebook account only rarely, leaving my WordPress blog to link my book reviews and other content to Facebook; I don’t Tweet, although I have a Twitter account.

For a few days recently — thanks to losing my Internet connection under circumstances beyond my control — I experienced the classical stages of grief, but I occupied my non-wired state waiting for the cable guy to come with a new modem that has state of the art Wi-Fi, so all my Macintoshes — and my iPad — are connected, by reading more and trying out some of the manual typewriters in my collection. Yes! Typewriters! I love the feel of the classic writer’s medium and still use them for addressing labels and envelopes — and writing old-fashioned letters, signed with a fountain pen.

It was liberating!

I’m not alone. Thanks to my newly rewired state, I found a story online from the New York Times online site about another writer, Jenna Wortham, who discovered the freedom of not always being available: link:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/technology/cutting-the-digital-lifeline-and-finding-serenity.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha26_20120826

Wortham discovered the joy of non-connectivity when she went to a public swimming pool where cell phones are banned. The horror!

She writes: “The ban threw me into a tailspin. I lingered by the locker where I had stashed my phone, wondering what messages, photos and updates I might already be missing.


“After walking to the side of the pool and reluctantly stretching out on a towel by the water, my hands ached for my phone. I longed to upload details and pictures of my leisurely afternoon, and to skim through my various social networks to see how other friends were spending the weekend. Mostly, however, I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t some barbecue or summer music festival that we should be heading to instead.

“Eventually, the anxiety passed. I started to see my lack of a digital connection as a reprieve. Lounging in the sun and chatting with a friend without the intrusion of texts and alerts into our lives felt positively luxurious. That night, I even switched off my phone while mingling at a house party, content to be in one place for the evening and not distracted by any indecision about whether another party posted online looked better.

“My revelation — relearning the beauty of living in the moment, devoid of any digital link — may seem silly to people who are less attached to their devices. But for many people, smartphones and social networks have become lifelines — appendages that they are rarely without. As such, they can sway our moods, decisions and feelings.

“One side effect of living an always-on digital life is the tension, along with the thrill, that can arise from being able to peep into people’s worlds at any moment and comparing their lives with yours. This tension may be inevitable at times, but it’s not inescapable. It’s possible to move beyond the angst that social media can provoke — and to be glad that we’ve done so.”


Wortham adds that writer and entrepreneur Anil Dash calls this phenomenon the “Joy of Missing Out” or JOMO, saying that “JOMO is the counterpoint to FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out,’ a term popularized last year by Caterina Fake, an entrepreneur and one of the founders of Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site.”
Of course, lacking the smart phone that my friends have, I was limited in posting stories to this site, although I could have gone to the public library with my MacBookPro laptop and send stories via the free Wi-Fi offered at the library. In fact, I did go to check my emails. I responded to a few of the more urgent kind, but left the library with a book. Not that a book reviewer needs to read a library book when all those review copies are calling to me “Read me! Read me!”

 

Now that I’m once again connected to the hilt, I’m thinking about having a day or two every week when I leave the computers and iPad off…Call it Internet Takes a Holiday, recalling the classic movie “Death Takes a Holiday.” It sounds like a good idea.

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