November 11, 2011
Yesterday I unplugged. From facebook, my iPhone, my personal email… basically all of the things that I check multiple times a day, every day. I did it along with many members of the Bates community as part of the “Present Tense” experiment. Put on by the Multifaith Chaplaincy and many other organizations on campus, its events included the annual Andrews lecture. A list of events for the week can be found here.
Tuesday afternoon my yoga class was cancelled– my teacher did it to encourage all of the students to attend the Andrews lecture, where Scott Belsky would be speaking. Scott is a really, really cool guy. He is articulate and intelligent and creative. Give his website a look to get a better idea of him here – lucky that the first thing you see on that page is a giant photo… I totally had a crush on him. He’s so smart! And so cute! Anyway… he gave a talk about “present tense” — how we’re all so plugged in to the constantly updating feed of information that our lives have become entirely reactionary. Coming from the business world, he didn’t propose anything outrageous or impossible– he acknowledged that connection is neccessary and that communication is integral to effective business. He simply suggested being mindful, maybe by creating boundaries to keep yourself unplugged for at least a little bit each day. He was a great speaker, and fielded questions afterwards.
The next day, I was really amped up to unplug. Using my clock radio to wake up was a little silly at the beginning of the day, but I felt really free. I kept my phone on, but it was in my backpack the entire day. I told most people that I would be unplugged, so it didn’t create too many issues. I really enjoyed it. But it DID make it hard for my work (on twitter and facebook for the theater department). I’ve always been very interested in technology, social media, the internet, online communications etc in more than just a “i like to use facebook to stalk people” way. The possibilities for connections and keeping up correspondence despite being worlds away are incredible. I wrote my college essay about the internet and using it to connect with people; now, as I zero in on careers, social media has become one of my most utilized and demanded skills. There it is: self-proclaimed social media addict. And I unplugged. And you can too!
You don’t have to do it for a week, you don’t have to unplug across all platforms. You could try merely not checking your facebook for one day and it would still be effective. It will bring you away from being reactionary, and your creativity and free mind can help you be a little bit more proactive about your life.
I understand this may sound a little wonky, but I found a lot of value in the experience, and I’m so glad that Bates (from all different angles, departments, and organizations) was supportive of the experiment.