I know very well what it is like to have a cut cord for a few days; it’s traumatic.
About a month ago I arrived in the picturesque Italian town of Udine. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was not its Venetian arches, its cobble stoned alleys, the smell of fresh bread and basil, or even the godly German/Italian men on bikes threading through the city … the only thing I thought about for the first three days were two resounding words: no service.
I had run out of travel credit. And when I checked in to the residence where I was staying two words became four:
NO SERVICE and NO INTERNET
and the words kept multiplying:
“Not for three days… they’re fixing it!” Two desperate young housemates also holidaying and in similar situations were almost in tears (one had no phone at all! the horror!)
“Ok, let’s be calm,” I said. “Where is the nearest internet cafe?”
“No one knows … AND we have no internet to find it!”
We wound through the alleys and stood on street corners with my incapacitated phone, eyes fixed on the screen, searching for a decadent whiff of someone else’s wifi…
I am going to be the first to admit to you all that us Digital Sabbath girls have had a little trouble practicing what we preach. After we agreed unanimously that for authenticity’s sake someone needed to experience digital destitution, there may have been just a little pass-ag discussion over who the first one would be to pull the plug.
“I have an assignment due”
“I need it for work”
“I will do it for half a day… while I’m at work…”
“I’ll keep my phone just in case my mum calls, I can’t and don’t ignore mum’s calls”… since when!?
With memories of my last ‘fall off the face of the earth’ nagging away at my morals, I confess my comment was the worst…
“Can’t we pretend we did it?” …
So as a punishment for even considering deceiving you guys I did it first. Albeit for two days. But it’s a conscious effort! Here are some of the interesting bits:
At the beginning I didn’t trust myself so before I shut down my computer I downloaded a programe that cuts off certain internet sites for a certain period of time irreversibly, called self control. Ironically the app symbol is a black skull and cross bones… classic memento mori. I had added Facebook to the ‘blacklist’ and was considering doing a ‘trial’ smaller Facebook detox. “Yep, I’ll ease myself in,” I thought.
The application disregarded my blacklist and blocked me from the internet in its entirety. It was not meant to do that! That conniving little skull! I tried to delete the program from my applications, I restarted my computer, I swore, but nope the count down ticked on painfully. I guessed it was a sign, so I said my goodbyes and put my phone in a coma too.
Moral: It was meant to be.
Organisation solves all:
After ten hours of walks, reading and golden solitude I was alone with myself; a whole heap of repressed thoughts pinging into my head a little like unread emails…
Your drawers don’t shut,
If you died what would people say at your funeral?
Your nails are bumpy, are you iron deficient?
You are finishing in a year
Has your life peaked?
How much water do you drink a day?
I wonder how my overseas friends are going?
I decided I needed to organise my life. Three solid hours were spent in life organisation mode and at the end I was left with a cleaned out wardrobe, a neat filing system of past university paraphernalia, a very unconvincing handwritten list of objectives for the next year, and a rubbish bag full of letters, teddy bears and dried roses. After all that work I wouldn’t say I had organised anything or really banished of any doubts or worries I had. The feeling was that I had tangibly done something but not everything. And even more terrifyingly, that I COULD NOT do everything at once; an idea I was not used to.
Moral: The digital world and its seamless systems offer an illusion; you can feel like everything is on track; you have organised, categorised calendar-ised everything… but in reality you have not actually done anything. It makes you feel productive, fulfilled, on target and connected. But when you are alone with yourself you realise that you can’t ‘reply’ to the doubts, and putting your aspirations on iCal means nothing. Organising yourself in reality is much more complicated.
With assignment deadlines looming, and the walls feeling like they were suffocating me (I do not recommend detoxing at home because it is extra painful), the next day I decided to head into uni to do some work. On the train I was looking over peoples shoulders at peoples ipads and mobile phones (Is that cheating? I’m sorry). Then, when I arrived at uni I realised I didn’t have any idea what the time was so I had to busk for it on eastern avenue (I don’t even own a watch, I use my phone clock). Trying to answer a simple question I could have googled in 10 seconds took me on an epic journey through the labyrinth of Fisher Library and I wasn’t even allowed a map because the library categorising system is online. Needless to say I got nothing done.
Moral: Fisher is illogically categorised. On the flip side I did get some intense exercise going up and down stairs of the 8 levelled library so … acquired: a slightly more toned derrière.
I’m still a bit bitter sorry…
Real Moral: The Detox was very good at posing questions but not very good at answering questions. Maybe unanswered questions is what reality really is…