Afternoon Inquisition

AI: National Day of Unplugging

I’d like to claim there was no post yesterday because we were observing the National Day of Unplugging. Um, did you even know there was a National Day of Unplugging this weekend?

“The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.”

My back yardI can’t even begin to tell you how conflicted I am about this. As a professional Nature Nerd™ I think stepping away from the computer is a good thing. I spend WAY too much time staring at my computer screen and sitting on my ass. I love going for long walks in the woods, and I’m lucky enough that’s easy to do where I live in Connecticut.

I am old enough to remember when there were no cell phones to distract everyone from a conversation or a meal. I am profoundly grateful that I was able to go through my horrible horrible high school years without every stupid damn idiot thing I did being broadcast to the world and preserved forever.  And people, I was in high school in the 1970s. Ain’t NOBODY looked good in that giant collar, bell-bottom, double-knit jumpsuit shit.

I also am old enough that I remember when cell phones didn’t exist. Or the internet. Or personal computers. I took a computer class in college where we wished we had a computer cool enough to have cassette tape storage.  We had a giant clunker that read punch cards. These things. I had hundreds of them.

Vintage Punch CardSo, frankly, while I absolutely love being outdoors and not hearing anything other than wild animals and natural sounds–I also absolutely F’n LOVE having a tiny supercomputer in my pocket while I do that.  My phone let me record cicadas on Nantucket last year, and helped confirm their presence.  I can take a photo of a bird I can’t identify for later reference.  I have an app that lets me look them up in the field.

If I fall and tear my Achilles tendon in the middle of a National Forest, I can freakin’ call someone to get me, instead of having to hike out for a day, hobbling as best I could with a fully loaded pack.  That was 1987, and I’m still a little crabby about that.

I love technology. Because of the internet, I have amazing friends all over the globe. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Personally,  I think instead of a ban on electronics, we need to be more mindful of what we are doing and where.  If I’m having dinner with you, my phone is in my pocket. And I’m gonna make fun of you until you put yours away too.
The advantage of being a crabby old lady is I can yell at you kids to turn your damn iPods off and get off my lawn.

What about you? How do you deal with connectivity overload?  Is it a problem?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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    1. That xkcd is great, Johan Hari wrote a great piece ‘How to survive the age of distraction’ . The difference between using technology and being used by it. If a day of unplugging gets us to let go the, must keep up to date, and read everything in my blog feed feeling, then great, but I think it is how to deal with it every other day that is the bigger challenge.

      1. benjaminsa, on that note when I retire in a few years, I am looking forward to indulging in some serious reading, starting with the 12 volume history of WW1 by CEW Bean. With me it seems to be either military history or SF for delicious escapism. It will switch from one phase to the other without warning. Weird.

        1. Just don’t get those mixed up, you might end up at a dinner party talking about how that was the first
          introductions of the ironclads into warfare…

  1. A couple of years back, a branch broke in the maple tree out back and broke the phone line. This was before I had a smart phone so, while I could call the phone company for a service visit on my dumphone, I was mostly disconnected for the rest of the day.

    It was my most productive day in years.

    Lesson learned. I do like staying connected, but I also like being disconnected. So while I didn’t even know about the religio-guilt-trippio National Day of Unpluggathon, I do some unplugging all on my own at need. And I’ve also taught myself not to freak out if I leave the house without my phone.

  2. I have a connectivity problem. I’m trying to stave off the worst of it by putting off getting a smartphone until I complete my pre-reqs next spring.

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