Sunday, 14 August 2011

My 'technology time out' week

I decided to try a week without technology as a reaction to information overload and for a break, a change, a rest.  It was a good opportunity as I was going to be off work and going away for a few days so not near a computer.  I usually use my iPhone for most interactions so deleted my email accounts from it (home, work, gmail accounts), deleted all the Apps including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news, games (yes, even Angry Birds). I could use maps if needed but otherwise not the Internet.  I could use the camera on the iPhone although I took a separate camera too.  I kept my phone in case of emergencies and limited it to 3 texts a day - one to my Mum, one to T1 and one occasionally to Teenager2 with whom I left the iPad.
The first day was the worst as I realised that in certain situations I automatically reach for my phone - when we stopped for a cup of tea at a motorway service station, waiting in queues, to look at the news etc. just for fun and out of interest to see what other people are doing.  It was quite weird recognising the feeling of wanting to be connected as a matter of course and wondering whether it was good or not.  I took my phone out of my bag a few times and realised that the only thing I could look at was the weather forecast or the compass!
Over the next few days we (Geoff and I) went to Birmingham (Malmaison + cocktails + riots / looting + botanical gardens), Bletchley Park, Cotwolds (16th century hotel + gardens + deck chairs), Hidcote gardens, Ragley Hall, Jerwood Sculptures, Malvern (ivy clad hotel + G&Ts + restaurants + priory + libraries).  I gradually stopped thinking about technology and read - 6 books in 7 days.
The good points of the 'technology time out' were relaxing, switching off, not watching or listening to the news and reading - it's years since I've galloped through books for hours at a time.
The bad points were that I missed the fun and excitement of technology, I missed being part of a connected society.  When we were in the bar of Malmaison in Birmingham during the riots I was the only person not on a smart phone following what was happening.  The same with the cricket - it's good to share the highs and lows.  I missed sharing photos of beautiful places and I missed seeing other peoples updates.  It was also really difficult to find out information without the internet - what time were places open such as gardens, restaurants - it was frustrating to look at a map in an atlas rather than sat nav (but probably good for the brain). Arrangements depended on others texting me. I lasted the week without checking emails which was an achievement as I don't like the idea of something nasty lurking in that inbox.
Today is back to normal and I think the 'technology time out' has been a good experience and forced me to switch off and relax and realise that, if for me it is all or nothing then, I need to make sure I have space for nothing occasionally.

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