The Disconnecting Dilemma

January 1, 2014. Stream of conscious musings. First journal entry after years of not journaling…

Trying to cram all kinds of productivity and creativity and exercise into this first day of 2014. Like setting a precedent for high achievement because I can’t seem to let go of doing. If this is the Year of Unplugging, I’ve failed today’s test. On the computer by 7:00 a.m.; cleared my InBoxes; worked; tweeted; read; responded.

Felt that pang of fear that I’d miss something important or simply fail to do something (if I disconnected). Stopped to make breakfast and clear some clutter around the house, then on the computer again to check bank balances and look at miscellaneous things. Finally, shut it down. And now I’m worried that I’m missing something else.

In 1995, I mocked the news reports of Internet addiction.

In 2014, going online has become an integral part of my day, whether related to work or not, and I finally look at myself as a human being unable to control my impulses to check yet another social network or email account or text notification. And just as I begin to worry for my own wellbeing as I check again or want to check again to see if anyone has pinged me online, I realize that this habit has become more normal for many and less alarming.

As being “hyper-connected” becomes the norm, there are those of us who desperately want to disconnect to reconnect.

And yet each time I think of setting aside my electronic devices and taking a break, I have Doomsday thoughts of the repercussions of not responding to the next message that is inevitably there, vying for my attention.

I need to announce my plans to disconnect and somehow be held accountable for keeping my promise to unplug, even if just a few hours a day. Maybe it means finding an “Unplug Buddy” to witness my absence or my compulsive posting when I’m supposed to be offline. But I will probably blame that errant post on Buffer, something scheduled before I said I’d unplug, like an addict rationalizing each new drink or hit. “It isn’t me. Really.”

This is 2014, and like for many humans, a new year means a clean slate. I want my slate to have less online time, but more writing time, both on computer and paper.

I think PAPER is part of my salvation. Pen to paper will save me.

(I’m not alone in wanting to disconnect. Editor Jordan K Turgeon just posted “Why I’m Quitting Social Media for 30 Days.” And search the #unplug hashtag to see evidence of many other tech and social media sabbaticals. The only difference? They are actually doing it, and I…panic.)

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