Pull the plug
Here it is. Tuesday. We’re able to get the primary results in the paper (see page 7), but there won’t be time to analyze them before we go to press. We’d like to congratulate all the people who made it through the primary, and offer our sympathies to the rest—although a “win” in this election is like winning a race to become sacrificial lamb. So where do we turn for a meaningful editorial?
Ahh, summer. The first day of the season is the last day this paper will be on the stands. We didn’t talk about it much in our summer guide, but we have an idea for how to make your summer better. In fact, it may be a difficult ideal to live up to, but following this one simple piece of advice will improve your life this summer and for all summers in the future: Unplug. At least, unplug a little.
We’re not kidding. Try as we might, we just can’t believe 10 years down the road, you’ll recall a caustic Facebook posting as your best memory of Summer 2012. Do you imagine that creating an image with a snarky statement and a retro graphic for Pinterest is going to be better than taking a photo of a friend on a camping trip? Or an actual memory of the one that got away?
Our work and our digital lives frequently intrude into our real-world lives because we allow those things to intrude. Life is short, and every moment spent obsessively checking statuses, posting images, or tagging yourself—often in the middle of the event you’re there to enjoy—is like a moment stolen. And it’s not like cigarettes chopping a few years off the end of your life. Rather, it’s often time lost at the height of the fun.
And, dang it, it’s not easy. It seems irresponsible to leave the smart phone at home. What if something bad happens, how do you call for help? Or how can you remain at the front of the pack if you don’t have that laptop next to your bed wirelessly connected to the World Wide Web? And what if one of your friends spots a celebrity and posts a picture to Facebook, how can you respond?
But it can be done. People did it for centuries. You can reengage with terra firma. You can still make a new friend in a bar or at a festival. It’s like Billy Joel sang once, “I know it’s awful hard to try and make love long distance (pant, pant, pant).” You may even have some family members or loved ones who could use a bit of that analog world’s connection.
Our arts editor compares a digital sabbatical to a religious Sabbath. The idea is for one day a week to break the rhythms of work life, maybe to slow down or to speed up. So, that’s where you start. Take a Sunday. Turn off the cell phone. Turn off the computer. In fact, you can turn off any electronic tool with a screen.
Go outside. Preferably go somewhere with pretty people in skimpy swimwear or a panoramic view. Take baby steps.
If you’re careful, and you take it one step at a time, by Labor Day, you may be able to disconnect for an entire three-day weekend.