It seems preposterous that this is a big deal. But it was, for me. I was anxious going in. I’m anxious coming out! It was… hard, but not like marathon hard, more like “persistent itch you can’t scratch” hard.
What I’ve learned by getting entirely offline for three solid days:
- I enjoyed it. Increased presence, and in some ways increased peace of mind. Definitely higher focus on being in the moment.
- We were also doing a lot of low-key travelling, which was interesting: paper map, and finding out about the places we were going (small towns in Ontario) by looking and asking (“hey, is there a bookstore anywhere around here?”) rather than searching. It added to the fun. Also to the stress when you’re not sure if you’re on the right road or not.
- I can still read! I can read a lot. In the end, I’m not a media snob: I don’t think reading is the One True Form of Entertainment and everything else is somehow lesser. But there’s definitely a different experience to reading and listening to records than to video games, comics on the iPad, etc.
- I didn’t miss video games at all, which makes me question whether I should be gaming in the first place. Ditto podcasts. And Netflix.
- My brain was busy. It was hard to sleep. Which is antithetical to what they tell you about no electronic devices before bed. A bit of a detox affect, I’m guessing.
- The hardest thing, in the end, was not knowing stuff. I have a lot of curiosity, and a hunger to scratch that itch immediately. Learning more about an artist on the radio. Looking up the author of a book. Checking a weird fact I happened to be wondering about. The fact that I can’t specifically remember a single thing I wanted to look up is telling. I had to spend a lot of time living with idle curiosity, and not jamming my brain up with trivia, which is ultimately a good thing.
Ultimately, this felt like a luxury. Removing oneself from the world. So it was more of an indulgence than a legitimate life choice — long term, it would be hard to sustain relationships (and keep my job) doing this.
It was a good three days, though. I definitely feel more rested and relaxed than I have with any other staycation.
Have I learned anything? Is anything gonna stick? Meh. It was only three days. I definitely hope to spend less time with my phone as an extension of my hand. I doubt I’m going to make any sweeping lifestyle changes. But having Netflix/music/podcasts as a constant soundtrack to my life is something I adjusted to doing without very quickly.
There’s a lot to unpack about valuable keeping up and valueless keeping up that I need to thing about here.