Saturday, March 20, 2010

National Day of Unplugging

"Think about it. A month ago, no one would go on this site because we were worried about getting molested. Or losing our identity. Having it stolen. But now, at a time To Be Determined, all of those problems will be in the past."
--The Office

 I am not Unplugging for the National Day of Unplugging. Consider me a Conscientious Objector. An abstainer. I wouldn't opt out of technology for a day, any more than I would (willingly) opt out of  Indoor Plumbing for a day. I suppose I could go around stringing tin cans between trees to chat with my loved ones, but a quick text seems simpler. (Color me dubious when they're selling little burlap "sleeping bags" for our electronic devices. Really? I sure hope those proceeds are going to charity.)

Maybe I'm missing the point, but I communicate for a living, and I think of technology as just another tool for communicating. I wouldn't give up my pink pens and my pink moleskine notebooks either.

 Though I'll concede there's something to be said for several of the Ten Principles of the Sabbath Manifesto, which encourages one day a week where we:
  • avoid technology;
  • connect with loved ones;
  • nurture your health;
  • get outside;
  • avoid commerce;
  • light candles;
  • eat bread;
  • find silence;
  • give back.
 I could do without the bread, and they'll take my blackberry and netbook when they pry them from my cold dead fingers, but I could go for maybe eight out of ten. I would substitute, say "eat local" for "eat bread."

The thing I avoid on the weekend is the News. After Friday morning's news, I go into a news blackout until Monday morning (when I start by reading the Sunday paper). It's a slightly odd choice in my line of work, but if anything urgent or traumatic happens, my friends (who all know about the weekend blackouts), text me the intel. It's the one way I have of staving off Outrage Fatigue.

I know this "Sabbath/Unplug" movement doesn't come from Luddites -- but I immediately go on the defensive anyway, because I find Luddites smug, and if there's one thing I hate, it's Smug. I know four of them. All men. And all four of them afford the luxury of their eccentricity by having wives or girlfriends who do every bit of their electronic heavy lifting for them, whether it's typing up their manuscripts or maintaining their websites and e-commerce. Give me a break. So they don't mind benefiting from technology, they just don't want to do the work of keeping up.

I've lived through three ice storms that blasted us all unwillingly back to the dark ages, and I have no desire to go back there.  I read See You in a Hundred Years where this couple returned to life a century ago, mostly with the idea of getting a book deal, it seemed. Ever since I read that, "unplugging" has struck me as a little self indulgent.

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