(Technological) Independence Holiday – AKA The Annual Digital Cleanse

July 1, 2011 in It is what it is - opinion column, Other Than That - news, business & other nonsense | Comments (0)


It’s time.

The July 4th holiday is upon us and as has been the case for several years now, I’m heading to Sonoma, CA for some much needed R&R. As in the past, I am leaving all technology at home.

Yes, you read that correctly. All technology stays at home.

Okay, so I will have my “bat phone” with me, which is the phone for which only about a dozen folks have the number and I will use that occasionally to connect with the people with whom I’ll be spending various moments in time throughout the week; but by and large I’ll be going analog. Several books, a fresh journal and a stack of magazines (as well as my trusted travel Scrabble) stuff the bag usually relegated to hefting around at least one computer, all kinds of cables and recording devices.

This year’s journey, however, it’s a bit different because rather than just three or four days, I’ll be pulling my plug from the Matrix for a full week. Eight bliss-filled days of …

Oh shit, what will I do? How will I breathe? How will I know what’s happening everywhere, every second?

Hopefully you could hear the tongue welded firmly in cheek with that. I mean, come on. Has the FOMO factor (that’s Fear Of Missing Out in case you didn’t know) become so ridiculous that one cannot take a break for a week? Have we all become so utterly convinced of our personal indispensability that the very idea of not checking in for 8 days strikes fear in one’s heart?

I can’t lie to you. I wonder if I can make it the full week. I already know that the first 24 hours or so will be odd, because I’ve done this before – though like I said, just never quite this long. For the last several years I’ve used my trip to Sonoma as the chance to fully unplug from the grid. Last year I even wrote about it for dot429. This year, though, a full week. In fact, while I’ll be in Sonoma from July 1 to July 8, I don’t intend to really get back online until July 9-10 – at which point my main focus will be digging through what will no doubt be a rather hefty digital snowdrift of data.

A full week. Okay, so I know from previous experience that during those first 24 hours I’ll have the occasional phantom buzz in my pocket or purse. I’ll think that I’m hearing a text message go off or an alert from Facebook or Twitter. Kind of like the phantom pain an amputee experiences after having lost a limb, so too will I be reaching to scratch the digital itch.

I also know that after about 36 hours, I’ll be just fine. I’ll be better than fine, in fact. I’ll begin to breathe at a normal rate. My system will slow down a tick and I’ll begin to notice more things around me. I’ll pause in conversation, not because I have to check a message but because I’m musing on what someone just said and taking a moment to formulate a response. As I noted in my talk at the recent 140 Conference, this idea that we cannot step away from the stream for even a minute has grown to ludicrous proportions and is, in fact, not serving us well. You may think you know more. You may think you’re more connected. Are you really? Look around any cafe or room at any event. How many people’s eyes are cast downward at some screen or another? Too many. We MUST disconnect, if we are to make sure that all this connectivity has any long term value.

Throughout the week I will be chronicling my experience – in a journal, with a pen, by hand – and upon return will be sharing my daily experience of disconnecting and recalibration.

But for now … I gently tug the umbilical cord and head for the warm north … and adventures at a truly real time speed.


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