I didn’t plan to take a digital hiatus. I sort of fell into it – literally.
I had been mulling it for a few weeks. Yes, yes, I happened to be reading Digital Minimalism (spoiler: I don’t 100% agree with the author’s premises even if I do agree with some of the conclusions). But while that provided the seed, it was circumstance that caused it to germinate.
On March 16th, a day notable for being the day before my birthday, I had a fall. I won’t go into the details (they’re slightly embarrassing and involve doing the dishes), but the end result was that I was immobilized. My left knee was swollen to double it’s size, my darling wife had gotten me a cane without any hint of sarcasm, and I found myself just…not. Not going on Facebook. Not going on Twitter. Not.
The first week was probably the toughest. After a while, though, I realized the only thing I was really missing was some of the news items that would filter into my feeds. Twenty seconds and an RSS link later, that itch was scratched (and, subsequently, unscratched, as I realized some of my feeds reported the same stories as the others). I used to argue that I kept my Facebook account so I could talk to those people I didn’t talk to otherwise. Likewise, Twitter was where I “hung out” with the writing community. But in my absence, I found nothing was missed. The conversations continue with or without me. I’m not lamenting that no one noticed my absence – more, I’m observing that my ego aside, I really wasn’t contributing to the dialog.
This is not the story of how I became an evangelist for the Analog Only movement. I did, though, find that there were some things, especially once I was less mobile, that were easier if I went the “old” way. Reading, for instance, is more enjoyable when you have both the physical mark of your progress, as well as not being dependent on battery life and chargers. I’ve been streaming a lot more music, but on a radio, not a computer. And there’s something magical about unplugging throughout the day.
Don’t get me wrong – I still work for a great, very entrenched in the digital realm company, a company you could call a small social media network (our users interact, even if the primary medium of interaction isn’t words but images). We’re not a place where people go to share their life status, or show pictures of their successful lives so much as a place where a community can come together and share laughs and emotions.
But outside of work, the laptop is more often than not closed, the keyboard silent. What does that do to my writing? Honestly, that’s a great question. I’m still mulling on a novel idea, scribbling down paper notes as thoughts come to me. In the next few days a new daisy wheel for a Brother electric typewriter I picked up for $2 at a yard sale comes in, and I plan on giving that a go (I already replaced the ribbon and have no interest in having a correction tape). With luck, that will satisfy the desire to write with my fingers tapping without needing to be on a computer to do it.
In the meantime, I am long overdue on writing a friend a letter back. But more on that in another post.