Disconnecting Changed The Way I Reconnect (For Now)

I recently returned from a two week vacation in Italy during which (most importantly) I got married and (relevant to this article) I spent about 20 minutes on the Internet. That’s right- two glorious weeks away from electronic information overload. No email, no surfing the Internet, no updating Twitter, Facebook, or this blog.

During those two weeks, I explored amazing cities in Italy, tried new food, made new friends, and spent much needed quality time with my fiancée-turned-husband. Another couple we met on the trip talked about finding an Internet café upon arrival in each new city. My husband and I wished them luck and went our own way. There just wasn’t anything I needed to check on or anyone I wanted to talk to rather than spend time with my husband and see everything I could in the one country I’ve wanted to visit since I was little.

On our second to last night, my husband purchased Internet access for 24-hours on his laptop. He spent about a half hour responding to a few business emails. I scanned my inbox and selected only two emails to read: one from my dad and one from my friend who was coordinating with vendors for my and hubby’s post-trip wedding celebration. I changed my Facebook status to say “Sherri was married in Rome, is sunning in Venice, and will be home soon.” Then I logged out of everything and went to dinner. That’s it.

What did I miss? Not a whole lot. Sure there were a couple hundred emails waiting between my personal and work email accounts. My RSS reader had collected a slew of articles and blog posts attempting to mock me in harsh black “unread” fonts. And when I finally ventured back online, they were all still there, waiting for whenever I was ready to get back to them. I leisurely worked through my personal emails at the pace of about a dozen a day, deleting liberally. I didn’t even begin reading the work emails until I returned to the office four days after my return.

Since coming home, I have radically reduced the amount of time I spend on my computer, opting instead to spend time cuddling with my husband and stepson on the couch, cooking new meals, and playing with the dog (who was probably the most excited to have me back home). After all, I work on Web sites all day. The last thing I really need to do at home is spend more time on the Internet.

There is a big world beyond my computer screen. Sometimes the Internet helps me connect to it. The key word is “sometimes.”

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4 Comments

  1. lwayswright said,

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I like that a lot. Congrats on the wedding. I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet at home. I have to be on it all day at work so when I get home, I blog a little, then…I’m done. It’s family time!

  2. Taylor said,

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I find myself inexplicably drawn to check my email in evening hours and yet, once facing the screen, somewhat repulsed at the prospect. We live in the “information age,” with all the world at our fingertips, and yet too much of that virtual noise seems to make us feel a bit distanced, doesn’t it? I rejected the Facebook phenomenon in college… didn’t understand why people would opt for an online dialogue with someone who lives right down the hall. Go knock on the damn door! But now I, too, work on the web, and I am struck with that ambivalence mentioned at top between its promise for connection, education, illumination, and so forth, and its tendency to distract people from the immediate circumstances of their lives. Some people misuse it in this way, maybe. But that’s true with many things. All in all, I am in awe of the way the intenet has rendered proximity meaningless. And I am curious as to how our local communities and cultures (physically local) will evolve in this context.
    Sherri, your experiment– something of an all-out detox– would probably serve everyone who is thoroughly ‘plugged in’ well as a practice at least once yearly. Unplug. Disconnect. Pass up the internet cafe and find a little one on a corner, sip some espresso, and watch the world at play.
    (In the spirit of this ambivalent relationship, I’ll risk hypocrisy and recommend you send you sell your piece of writing at top to RealSimple.com or something like that. You’re a web girl, so you know; they’ll be all over it.)

  3. Tom Johnson said,

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Married in Rome. How awesome. You know, blogging can be a great marriage activity. You really get to know what your spouse is thinking when he or she writes a post.

  4. Monday, September 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Congratulations on getting married! How lucky to have a wedding in Italy. :)


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