My book Digital Detox: Rethinking Our Lives Online - Cultivating a rich inner and outer existence in the 21st century, will be released from New Society Publishers this fall.
Do you wonder about the shape of your life? It is right to wonder. We weren’t born into the world with smartphones in our hands and there won’t be anyone to type our final quip on Twitter upon our death, yet these are the items that dominate our every day.
“It is very difficult to step out of the immediacy, the ‘necessity’ of media and say “maybe I don’t need this” because we believe we have control over their effects because we made these technologies but the truth is we make our technologies and they remake us in their image and for their purposes,” says media ecologist Read Schuchardt.
We live our lives in little silos, faces turned towards iPhones and MacBooks instead of humans. Teens send and receive over 5,000 texts a month. The average adult keeps their smartphone within 3 metres of them 24 hours a day. Our ears are plugged with podcasts and punditry.
There’s no question that technology has overrun our lives. Over the past century, the world has welcomed technological ‘progress’ with arms wide open and we’re living with the clicking, dinging, anxiety-inducing deluge of it. But a creative backlash is underway, helping human beings cope with the avalanche of data that passes in front of most of us every day through the use of computers and cell phones.
Slow food, the back-to-the-land movement, and groups like letter writing clubs are being formed by a new subculture: the 21st century luddite, wielding fountain pen and notebook, and some checking e-mail from the public library a mere hour per week.
I stepped off-line for 31 solid days and chronicled the journey by letter. I was searching for life beyond our steady state of distracted connectedness.
I learned that the smartphone check-ins I made multiple times a day were, in actuality, not time savers but time suckers. That if I, as a mother-of-two, wanted to engage with new ideas, read books, study, create — then I have to save up all of those two minute, one minute, ten minute windows and bank them for things I really want to do. Like write poetry. Phone my Grandma. Skype my sister. Read a book. Stepping off-line caused me to remember that my children are watching and practicing every move I make. Word and deed. For better or worse. As a woman and a writer I discovered peace, a quietness of mind, that I had been hungering for.
Not all of us have the desire or luxury of unplugging this way. What we share, however, is a universal sense that something must be done to rope the nodes in. But what?
Digital Detox examines the implications of a technologically focused life and the dynamic possibilities for those longing to cultivate a richer on and off-line existence. Through historical data, type-written letters, chapter challenges, and personal accounts from prominent artists, broadcasters, and thinkers, the book creates a convincing case for increasing intentionality in our day-to-day lives.
There is life beyond the silo. You can find it. Let this book be your guide.