I recall following the Huffington Post’s food column on Twitter but I have no recollection of clicking that blue bird to follow @HuffPostBlog’s tweets. That’s what happens in today’s connected world. We browse, we click, we like, we share. Perhaps you could make the case that our digital lives are on autopilot.
Earlier this week there was a tweet that stood out from the rest of the noise that is my Twitter stream. My attention peaked. What happens when you really disconnect?
— Huffington Post Blog (@HuffPostBlog) April 24, 2013
Instantly, I was drawn to the article. I need my disconnect. I can’t keep going if I don’t get time away from all things digital. That said, I understand the realities and demands of business and downtime is often seen as a luxury, not a necessity.
It would seem that I am not the only one.
The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg looks at the digital future of the world each year and in their 2012 report the data points to increasingly virtual interactions and significantly less face-to-face time (no, FaceTime doesn’t count!).
The percentage of Internet users who said they spend less face-to-face time with family in their household has grown dramatically, from a low of eight percent in 2000 to a peak of 34 percent in the two most recent surveys. — USC Annenberg
My work ties me to a computer for eight or nine hours a day so I understand how virtual interactions have become. Email is less and less efficient so we turn to other ways to interact. Between writing, cooking and connecting with family and friends near and far, I am easily connected to a device for another three or four hours each day.
The article continued and I agreed once more.
…the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for recovery … what I needed most of all was a period of total digital disconnection. – Tony Schwartz
Shwartz’s piece speaks of a nine day vacation that removed him and his wife from everything from Google to Newspapers for nine days. He was able to absorb the city he visited with greater clarity and excel on the tennis court.
Technology allows us to accomplish things that previous generations could never have dreamed, but have these accomplishments created the need for structured disconnect?
Is it the digital age that has made me crave Shabbat (the sabbath) and look forward to it each and every week?
Shabbat is my reset button. That’s what I look forward to each and every week.
I get the gift of 25 hours hours with no emails to reply to, no statuses to update, no mail to open, no articles to write or phones to answer. I feed my mind, body and soul and recharge for the coming week. My weekly ritual digital disconnect is something I could not live without.
When the sun sets on a Friday evening, I am blessed with 25 beautiful hours to live in the now. The time is spent with family, friends and community, void of the distractions and noise of the now generation. As the dust settles from the last-minute Friday rush, we sing Shalom Alechem and Eshet Chayil (ritual songs recited on a Friday night to welcome our the sabbath) and I stand with my family, welcome our guests and everything is right in the world. I set and ready for another week.