Lately, I’ve been trying to take a break from the computer. Or at least the Internet.
(Side note: AP style always taught me that “Internet” is capitalized as the proper name of a defined thing, even though the Internet nowadays seems more like a huge, amorphous force. That’s why I’m capitalizing it, in case you wondered. You’ll probably also notice that I am not consistent on this or many other points.)
Being online really is a huge, huge time suck. I have a daily routine that involves getting up, making coffee, writing for and posting to my blog, reading other blogs, uploading eight or ten pictures to Flickr, and reading an assortment of news sites including The New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian and sometimes the St. Petersburg Times. Then I often stray off into aimless Facebooking and web browsing, and before I know it it’s 11 a.m. and I’m still in my pajamas.
Since last week I’ve been trying to curtail the latter part of that routine. After indulging my news habit, I close my computer and I leave it closed. I read, or go for a walk or run, or run errands, or go to the park or whatever. I get out and about, engage with the world. (The real world.). I might return to the computer if I need the word processor or iPhoto, but I try not to go online until I check my e-mail again in the evening.
My hope is that will help me waste less time -- not that time spent on Facebook or YouTube is inherently wasted. It just needs to be apportioned, like ice cream or gin.
There's something exhausting about the impulsiveness that being online creates, at least in me. I'll click from here to there, to this link, to that link, and after a while I've lost my original purpose. So much easy information! I don't miss the days when you had to go look something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia -- after all, that was kind of a pain. But it took a mindfulness, an intention, that is now much diminished.
I’ve enjoyed the experiment so far. We’ll see how long it lasts!
(Photo: Door details in Islington, Sunday.)