Okay, let’s acknowledge the oddness here straight out. I’m writing about the peace you can achieve by spending time offline, yet I’m a Twitter and online addict, writing (online) a blog post for a very cool online site (which covers social media, geekery and that lifestyle), for people who will be reading the post online. I did not come up with this idea on my own. I was inspired by William Powers, in his book Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life In the Digital Age. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, Powers chronicles the way humans have always dealt best with technological change – by both embracing its many blessings, and by spending some time away from the new technology to absorb and process what its blessings provide.
Powers also discusses his family’s own offline choice: no “screens” on during the weekend. The conclusion? That it’s in our balancing of love and use of technology, and our time away from it, that we get the most out of these tools. Since reading Powers’ book, I’ve dedicated one weekend day each week to “screenless” time. I do not turn my computers on. No social media. No internet searches. No updates or messages. Not even checking e-mail. (I also added one weekday off from Twitter)
The conclusion? I now cannot imagine life without these offline days. Don’t get me wrong. I love the connectivity and juiciness that comes from tweeting (ask anyone on Twitter, I tweet A LOT). On Facebook, I love learning what everyone I know is doing. I use e-mail all the time for work. When I am online, I am addicted to getting the instant and constant updates that stimulate, excite and knit us together.
But we are all only human. We need breaks. We need to go back to the peace of analogue life, for pieces of quiet, and depth and processing and creative flow. When there is constant and instant access to everything online, there is no space or time to cogitate. To ruminate. To be quiet. To be able to listen to what the voices of inspiration are trying to tell us. Being in peace, and treasuring our own pieces of the universe allow us to create.
Here’s to hoping you will give yourself some offline time. Our screens are indeed our friends, but there are other creative and inspiring ideas who want to be our friends too, and they only come when we’re playing and listening offline. Give them – and yourself – that chance. I promise you, your life gets better when you make a regular time-and-space container to receive in this way.
Image Credit: [Tamara Holland / Bean Up The Nose Art]