In an age of unprecedented connectedness, true isolation has become a decadent, almost obscene luxury. It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve unplugged from the matrix. How did I do it? I turned off my cell phone, not vibrate, silent or airplane mode.
I can feel you shivering just thinking about it. Without the digital shock collar lashed to my wrist I felt a wave of nauseating anxiety practically drown me for the first two days. Then something strange began to happen. I began to regain my attention span. Driving, cooking, walking, simply breathing became enjoyable. But it was a timid happiness lurking like a battered and abused refugee escaping his tormentors for the first time in decades. I caught myself still flinching at the hyper reactive mental scars where I was most plugged in. If I heard other people’s ringtones I would still feel a rush of panic rise in my chest. Being unplugged in a world where everyone else is still doggedly plugged in is surreal to say the least.
Everywhere I went I saw people glued to their devices, security guards, diners, parents, joggers, baristas, waiters, moms, nannies, dads, grandparents and especially drivers (everybody drives and texts…truly disturbing.) We are all stumbling around with our attention divided between the real world and the digital realm where we are interfaced with hundreds or thousands of daily distractions from our lives. The aggregate effect is a general purgatory like trance where we are all neither here nor there more self absorbed than ever before. The tyranny of incessant demands for attention from everyone and everything must be eating away our souls.
If I were the paranoid type I would say this is the first assault by Skynet to domesticate their future biochemical batteries.
So I am ironically “unplugged” by not having a smartphone or even a cell phone. Yet I am still hacking away at this blog hoping that the message reaches those who still have the capacity to disconnect. I urge you to try it if even for 48 hours. Just turn off the smartphone and reconnect with your humanity.
Who knows how much longer we will have the option?