Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Low-tech holiday week!

For most of the year, I spend at least four hours a day sitting in front of a computer. Some of it's work, some of it's play, some (not enough) of it is writing time. But that's a lot of time staring at an LCD display. So for the past week, I've been on a digital vacation -- I've only been online once, and that was to retrieve a phone number. I sent no e-mail, didn't blog, didn't surf comic strips, didn't play games. I wrote, a little, but that was the complete extent of my computer usage over the holiday. It was nice, and a bit weird. Until you go a while without, you don't realize how much you're at least a bit psychologically dependent on a near-constant stream of information and communication. It feels like I think less when I'm so continually tied into a stream of information; hanging out online and reading webcomics and news and blogs is more mentally engaging than watching television, but it doesn't seem like a big improvement over gluing myself to a teevee for a few hours a day. And taking a break felt nice. Now I'm back in the routine and back online, but I'm paying a bit more attention to how I spend my time.

This internet-free vacation feels a bit different from my last low-tech week, hiking in King's Canyon. In King's Canyon, I was fifty miles from cell phone reception, and a minimum of twenty miles from the closest working electrical outlet. Technology wasn't an option (plus, I was busy with hiking and cooking and filtering water and not showering). But this week, the computer has been right here, a few feet away at all times. It was constantly available, and it was a bit of a mental effort to avoid it at times.

Laura and I were both free for the past week; she had a single one-hour meeting last week, and other than that, we spent the entire week together. We cooked and read and loafed and snuggled on the couch in front of the Christmas tree and had a wonderful week together. I'm glad we had the time to spend, and glad we didn't squander it glued to our computers.
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Update. I just discovered a disadvantage to spending a week offline: I've got a bunch of library books overdue. I usually visit the library's website every day or two and renew any books that are getting close to expiring. And, since I wasn't planning my Luddite week in advance, I didn't renew my library books first....

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