Yesterday I went on a "Digital Fast." I completely disconnect myself from my computer. 24 Hours: no email, no Twitter, no Facebook., no Google Reader, no blogging.
The force behind this choice was some important decisions I need to make for my family. I took the day off from teaching and determined that I needed to eliminate distractions in an effort to increase my mental clarity.
It was a good day. I found that I was much more attentive to the needs of my family (we just welcomed a new baby, John Peter, to our home on April 16th), was much less introverted, engaged in conversations with others without feeling as if they were interrupting, enjoyed the outdoors more than usual, and felt that I was in control of my time instead of being controlled by the "urgency" of instant communication. I can't say that I was struck by the lightening bolt of inspiration and made all the tough decisions that I'm wrestling with, but overall, it was a positive experience.
This morning when I check my email, Twitter, Facebook, etc, I found that the world continued without my input. I didn't miss any important communications. No one was waiting for my approval for some life altering decision. Life went on.
I love the connections and information that have been made available to me through the internet. I appreciate the feedback that I receive from my Twitter PLN, the messages from friends and family on my Facebook wall, and the awesome ideas that I find hiding in Google Reader. If I am not careful, however, these tools have the ability to consume my life. Instead of looking at the various technologies that I use as tools to accomplish some greater goal, I can easily view them as an end in themselves. Participating in my virtual community is not as important as interacting with my students, my fellow teachers, and my friends and family. Taking a day off reminded me of this.
Several notable bloggers have come to similar conclusions. Here are two posts that I've recently read on the importance of "unplugging."
- Seth Godin: Incoming! (on "real" vs. "fake" work)
- Work Awesome: Reading Blogs Like books (an argument for getting rid of your RSS reader in favor of in-depth, focused reading. I don't agree with the post, but it's an interesting idea and hits at the root of information overload)
I am considering making my "Digital Fast" a regular occurrence (monthly?). If nothing else it reminds me to remain balanced and focus on the important things and teaches my children the importance of discipline.