Mired in Media

We all live with distraction ? kids running through the house, a co-worker?s constant pop-ins to chat (and avoid work), telemarketer calls during dinner. Some days it?s a wonder we get anything done. Digital distractions, however, are another animal entirely. Whether we?re updating a financial spreadsheet or working on a document, there?s the lure of the Internet, email, social networking sites. When we?re not on the computer, there are calls and texts from the cell phone, a mind-boggling array of apps on our smart phone, and the old standby ? T.V. It?s a far cry from Grok?s day when there was nothing to watch but the stars and dim silhouette of a darkened landscape, nothing to hear except the wind in the grasses, the distant calls of animals and chatter of family.

Yes, the irony isn?t lost on me: in addition to this blog, I?m on Twitter and Facebook. Then there?s the e-newsletter, online forum, and podcasts. I?m a tech junkie at this point, but like it or not that?s the way the world goes round these days. Most of us, I dare say, are caught up in it to some degree by choice or circumstance. Nonetheless, I don?t think I?m alone when I say there are times I need to disentangle myself from the digital web. Whether it?s to walk on the beach or to just totally focus on a project, I periodically unplug entirely.

A recent New York Times series on the ?plugged in existence? highlighted the story of five neuroscientists who set out on a rafting trip along the San Juan River, where digital signals don?t reach. Their purpose was two-fold: to personally experience being out of touch for those days and to professionally deliberate the technological tethering of the modern brain. Some of the group had a harder time being disconnected than others. By the third day, however, everyone was noticeably more relaxed and engaged, a phenomenon the trip?s organizer, Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah, calls the ?third day syndrome.? (Thinking about my own vacations, this pattern rings pretty true. No?)

The problem with living plugged in is, unlike the momentary chaos of children dashing through the kitchen, we too often bring on the digital distractions ourselves. Experts say we actually seek out interruptions of the digital variety like reward pellets in a lab cage. (There?s a reason they call that thing a ?Crackberry.?) If you have a hard time resisting the lure of the computer or phone, you know what I mean. It?s the enticement to look up ?one more thing? or not miss an anticipating message, to stay in the know ? right now. That?s what some of the scientists dealt with transitioning to the river wilderness, and it?s what many of us might feel when we?re away or when service is down.

Sure enough, the experts say, there?s evolutionary impetus behind the inclination. Evidently, we?re hardwired to favor the new and novel details in our environment over the involved project (like those dirty dishes) in front of us, and there?s a dopamine reward attached to the impulse. It wouldn?t pay for Grok to get so immersed in skinning dinner or talking with family that he misses the wolf pack circling his camp. Of course, our own distraction rarely yields such critical information. Our natural distractibility isn?t as adaptive in the modern digital landscape where our incessant curiosity is more likely met with another spam ad than a vicious predator.

Plugged In: Falling Behind and Checked Out?

Of course, this constant back and forth makes for a rather disjointed existence. That, researchers say, is the real concern. Met with constant interruption, our thinking becomes scattered, jumbled. At times, it can feel like we?re playing multiple shell games, trying to recall where we were in the midst of each one. Researchers tell us that the persistent intrusions and diversions of this technological multitasking leave our brains fatigued. A Stanford University study showed that media multitaskers ?do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.? They have a harder time filtering out ?irrelevant? information and getting to work applying what they?ve learned. In every task the researchers administered, self-declared ?heavy? media multitaskers were outperformed by those less inclined to multitasking.

One of the problems seems to be multitasking?s demands on our working memory, the mental space that holds information we are currently ?working with? and manipulating for reasoning and other purposes. Even the anticipation of a message, for example, absorbs working memory space. Furthermore, short-term memory can take a hit as well because of the added stress reported by multitaskers. And yet another study confirmed that multitasking literally changed the parts of the brain used in learning, and the consequence was less than encouraging. Interrupted learning is compromised learning, the study showed. Distractions resulted in impaired memory recall.

The overall research picture on multitasking, particularly media multitasking, points to a disturbing picture. We live with a damaging combination of influences: a deluge of digital information and a lack of downtime to intellectually synthesize it, reflect on it and make meaning with it.

As one of the neuroscientists on the rafting trip earlier suggests, ?[P]eople are walking around fatigued and not realizing their cognitive potential.?

If our productivity and cognition are suffering as a result of our media gorge, experts seem most worried about the state of our relationships. A poll taken by the New York Times found that media use influenced one out of seven spouses to spend less time with their partners and one of ten parents to shortchange time with their kids.

Being There

What do we miss when we step away from dinner to take yet another phone call or check email? What do we give up when family members retreat with their respective devices each night? What do we forgo when we spend a road trip immersed in a DVD player or iPod? What impact is there when people can?t stand in line, sit at the airport or even walk the dog without staring at or talking into an electronic device?

There?s more, actually, than the immediate missed opportunities, neglected obligations, and disappointed loved ones. We?re not only giving up what?s in the moment but also the capacity to later attend to people and events with the same mental energy and focus when we finally disengage ourselves from our techno toys. A taxed brain peters out more quickly after all. How much do we give to our gadgets, and how little is then left for the real priorities in our lives? As balanced a life as I try to lead, I know the article series has given me food for thought. It?s also reaffirmed the Grok metaphor for me once again ? the representation of a simpler life rooted in the essentials of existence. It?s a worthy reminder that living Primally for me is really about the full picture.

I?d love to hear your thoughts on making peace/finding balance with the digital realm. Here?s wishing you a little more dasein in your day. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the weekend, everybody!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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57 thoughts on “Mired in Media”

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  1. The “Plugged In: Falling Behind and Checked Out?” section sounds a lot like what happens in high school students. I can’t begin to tell you how true this is, being a fresh 2010 graduate. It’s degrading…

  2. I definitely feel the same lately, when I’m working on a spreadsheet it seems that I need music in the background, as if I want to crowd out my own thoughts. The same applies to websites, my RSS reader being the big evil here. 😉

  3. Since I was a kid, I’ve had a weird aversion to watching more than a little TV (like, more than an hour). I get something like motion sickness from it, and noticed when I was maybe 9 years old or so that it also made me feel depressed.

    This has turned out to be a good thing, in many ways, because TV just doesn’t have the draw for me that it seems to have for a lot of people. I really haven’t ever watched more than a couple hours of TV a week, if that. Even movies on TV are out for me, for the most part. I think that even if I didn’t have a natural aversion to TV, I’m a happier person for not having watched all that much.

    Also, I left a high-stress, highly email-dependent job to be a stay-at-home-mom to my baby daughter last year, and couldn’t be happier with my decision. It’s uniquely challenging in a lot of ways, but the stress, while momentarily very intense (i.e. when trying to diagnose and console a sick child), is far less than what it was. I’m so much healthier now, in every way.

    I’m considerably less plugged in now, which sometimes makes it hard for me to find common ground to talk about with other people, but it’s still worth it to me.

    1. In respect to TV, I’m the same; I just don’t watch it, except very rarely; so, although, I have nothing to say (and really don’t care) when friends and colleagues talk about latest shows, I have plenty of time for reading, my lifelong passion.
      However, I’m a technologist surrounded by gadgets, which at leisure times I use, mainly, for reading meaningful subjects.

  4. Excellent article Mark. I rarely read an article all the way through – I usually skim, but this one was so good I read it word-for-word and re-read it and took notes!

  5. I gave up facebook almost a year ago and my mind has been so much less cluttered. I don’t miss it one bit!

    1. I’m with you Tara. I ditched Facebook for a number of reasons. The whole thing does my head in. People who had my phone number or email address would only contact me on Facebook… it was just nuts. I don’t miss it at all. And bonus – it has freed up time for me to read MDA!

      1. I gave up on Facebook too! I think everyone should boycott Facebook: its controlling our lives, distorting our self-perception.

        Somebody should really find a way to spread the word about this… a facebook group maybe?…

  6. I have no television. I’ve never been on facebook, never have tweeted, … But since 3 years, since discovering paleo/primal lifestyle, I have spent a lot more time on the internet. Even more than I want to. Because, let us face it, once you get the hang of primal living, it is easy. There’s no need of reading or researching about it every day.

    Still, it is fun to read all the great blogs and websites.

    1. True here, too.
      The only reason I sometimes sit here for 1-2 hours behind my PC is to research Health.
      If it wasn’t for the internet my health would be going down hill right now and everyone around me with it.

      Thanks to the invention of Internet and Google I am now in perfect health (besides my small palates and crowded teeth but I’m getting that fixed now, too).

      Mark, you seriously need to do a post about dental arches and orthodontics that fix it for all of us Primal Folks. I think it’s important. It would bring a lot more people to the primal table after typing that into Google and your site shows up 🙂

  7. Loved the post Mark!

    I can’t tell you how nuts it drives me when I’m hanging out with a friend, and one of the whips out a cellphone to send an imporant message. Man, does it ever make YOU feel not important.

    I am going on a trip soon, and I’m going to challenge myself and my boyfriend to turn off our cellphones for three days! Hopefully we can manage.

  8. This is a good kick in the pants. I am sitting at work being distracted by the latest ‘primal news’ because I don’t really want to do the heavy project I have ahead. I will be turning off my internet after this post.

    It further reminds me to get our dining room table set up. We recently moved and that piece of furniture hasn’t been put back together leading to a very bad habbit of chilling in front of the TV at dinner time. That is the project for the weekend. Intelectually I think the concept of having dinner in front of the tv is terriable but it seems to have evolved into that and I need to put a stop to it. Luckily we actually have no cabel and only Netflix so we don’t spend a lot of time but more than we should…This is a great reminder before I waste a weekend to get some things set in order. Have a great weekend everyone!

  9. Mark, with this post, i think you’ve entered into a deeper, broader aspect of the whole paleo paradigm.

    this is beginning to look like a philosophy.


  10. Ah, media is so much different today then what it was just a few days ago. Facebook, twitter, youtube, blogs and more. We can get the news we want as soon as its available. iPhones and now iPads. What will the world be like in 5 years? Or even 1-3 years? Different once again.

    When you run a blog, engaging in social networking sites is a great way to promote your blog and connect with people. But, one must find balance and not over do it. I am guilty of spending too much time on these sites but am doing my best to limit my time and become more productive.

    Thanks for the gentle reminder Mark that Grok had none of this. I believe limiting your time online is great and something I will be paying attention too over the coming weeks.

  11. Sadly by reading this post I am avoidning work, which is exactly what the article is about… 🙁

    1. Unless you allow work to distract you from reading this post! 🙂

  12. Obviously, I realize that I’m lucky I can do this, but when I’m not at work, I’m not at a computer. As a librarian, I’m sitting in front of a computer for 8-9 hours a day – not fun. Sometimes I’ll check my email over the weekend or look to see when a movie is showing, but that’s it. I don’t buy into the smartphone texting crap, which makes me an odd member of Generation Y, but I think I experience more of life this way. If someone has something to tell me, they should call.

    I highly recommend to every to unplug for entire days at a time. You’ll have so much more fun this way, & miss out on very little.

  13. Over the last couple years, I have watched less and less TV. Not sure if the programming no longer piques my interest or if I just prefer doing whatever else it is I choose to do. Since going Primal this is even more true it seems.

    My wife; however, watches as much or more TV than ever. It’s lead to some conflict as we both accuse the other of not wanting to spend time together.

    I am guilty of spending too much time on the internet while at work. I need to address that as soon as I finish typing this post…

    Anyway, I hope to set an example for my daughter that she doesn’t have to plant herself in front of the tv for hours or be consumed with other electronic media for entertainment. I want her to want to be outside playing, exploring, and relaxing.

  14. Great piece Mark, as usual. I’ve thought about this a lot in the last six months since crash and burning with CC training. And have spent some days media-free and it really does make a difference.

    Very interesting to read about the deleterous effects of multitasking and media infiltration into memory capacity and performance, only today my mother (68) was decrying her sister’s (71) refusal to get a computer and become part of the online community – I often think my Aunt is a great deal more chilled than my mother and a far happier person! And in fact has lived like Grok for all her life now I come to think about it (if you discount the smoking!).

    I find, and always have, that I have to turn everything off if I want to think, read or write something.

    I wouldn’t be without the wonders of the internet, after all I would never have found PB and Grok but there is definitely a line that should be drawn and downtime is essential.

    Have a great weekend Grokkers … off to blog (LOL!) and then switch off.

  15. And how difficult wasn’t that?

    I mean reading this article as a whole, not clicking around in a thousand web browser tabs in between every passage. Omg.

    1. I am right with you here. I have not cut out cable tv completely but damn do I watch a lot less television then I did just 1-2 years ago.

      Most weeks I watch no more than 2 hours. I enjoy sports but don’t even watch much of that anymore. I just would rather sit outside and “do nothing” or read a book, take a walk, run, or whatever. Or play the sport that would be watched on TV!

  16. great post mark (as usual). I find this as more than coincidence, as my dad sent me that NYT article(s) the other day. Rather than a quick one liner, I actually replied with thought – because its a topic I’ve given a lot of thought to lately!

    This is what I said:

    “I totally agree. I love the droid, but I dont like being connected – ALL THE TIME. There are some days where I actually shut it off and leave it off for the majority of the day, and do the same at night too. On occasion, I will put it in airplane mode so I can still use a music app, but not feel like there is all these notifications coming my way.

    Which brings me to my next “thing”: distractions are the devil. This includes phone calls, emails, and phone distractions. Turn them off, and productivity goes through the roof! It helps keeps “vision” – know what I mean?”

    In fact, I may go camping this weekend, SOLO, just to REALLY unplug, and re-connect (no pun) with nature.

    This post is similar to something you posted a while back about TV’s and other media devices giving off the same blue light that the sun does – which helps keep us up at night. I tried one of suggestions of someone who left a comment of using candlelight as a means of lighting after the sun goes down. It was probably one of the better nights of sleep I had all winter.

    Grok on!

  17. Geoff,

    Your post was so enlightening and full of wit. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, please let me know how.

    If the guy wants to paraphrase then let him. You don’t have to read it.

  18. This is a great … brb (my cell phone is ringing and I have a Tweet coming in.

    Back. Actually, I only turn my cell phone on for emergencies and to connect with someone, e.g. at the state fair. I do not have Twitter.

    No TV viewing for a couple years. Facebook is my only trendy social medium. It is an important link to some people. But I don’t spend much time with it.

    Not bragging though – I spend many hours a day on the computer, both for work and social interaction. I am very involved with Second Life. I have reduced my time there a little but the only way you or anyone will get me to spend less is to pry the computer out of my cold dead hands. At least there are many ways I can restrict the interruptions, e.g. setting “busy”.

    At work, I am able to have headphones on, listening to soothing music. That has been a lifesaver.

    But I really do understand the message of this article. I do at times feel the exhaustion of too many stimuli coming in.

  19. I have not posted a comment here for a very long time (although I visit the site each day).

    However, I am compelled to post today just to say that this is one of your best updates ever.

  20. This is a great post, Mark. I think the most important thing for all of us is to….oh, wait. There goes my Blackberry. Be right back!

  21. We just recently spent a week at a cabin in the mountains with our highly wired to the world 20-something son and his girlfriend. There was no internet, tv, radio, nada, and I wasn’t sure how they would do. But we hiked & swam, watched the stars, did a group jigsaw puzzle, napped, told stories, laughed, and RELAXED. Everyone, younger generation included, agreed it was the best vacation we’d ever had. I highly recommend disconnecting– except to MDA, of course 🙂 –to experience how great it really is.

  22. Great post Mark. I have engaged in periodic media “fasts”. For a few years now. The basic version involves giving up radio, tv & internet for a set period of time, while the full-monty version means giving-up (recorded) music and printed material as well. In either case it’s a great practice and really helps to re-set my head.

  23. I, like Ryan, usually skim when reading online, but I read every word of this post. Love it!

    Several months ago I participated in a “technology sabbath” and it was, without exaggeration, one of the most enjoyable days of my life. Didn’t hurt that it was a spectacularly beautiful spring day and I had the house to myself. 🙂 I lounged. I read. I daydreamed. I napped. It was glorious.

    My life has actually changed direction because of that day – for one thing, I realized I want to leave my technology-based job for a different career. But more than that, I realized how important it is to try to live consciously. I now have “why am I doing this?” notes all over my home and office – so that any time I change activities – whether to eat or turn on the tv or turn on the computer or sleep or workout (or not workout!) – I know whether I’m distracting myself or taking care or myself. It has made all the difference in maintaining focus on my dreams.

    I’m using Google Reader to distract a little right now – rough day at work – but that’s ok – I know I’m doing it!

    Thanks, Mark, for another great post and for all your wonderful efforts.

  24. My most peaceful moments are spent in the oudoors, in places that force me to disconnect. No electricity, no cell service, completely unplugged. I am still trying to figure out how to bring the peace I feel outdoors, inside to where I always feel crazy – too much technology, noise, multitasking, etc. etc. Maybe I need to focus on doing less, and doing one thing at a time. A follow up post about how to live primally peaceful in chaotic everyday life would be great! =)

  25. HA HA! Great post! Close to home these days..I will try to keep it brief..(always a challenge)
    I watch little to no TV..it just doesnt hold my interest, and I get antsy because I could be DOING so many other things. I do not have a (dumb) “smart” phone. I can text, (prompt and to the point) and call..what else do I need? I can browse the internet from my computer if I choose..such as this site..:)
    Hubby can sit in front of the tube or video games for HOURS on the couch…not suprisingly , Hubby has a new place to live.
    My kids love to play outside, and are only now being influenced by outside media (given as gifts by some grandparents) i.e. laptops, Ipods..(sorry, I refuse to PAY for music..lol)and I sincerely hope that my example and others in my family of kicking back and enjoying nature for what it is..via unplugged camping, nature hikes, beach time..etc will rub off on them. Hubby was in AGONY Tent camping in the mountains of NH..the beaches of Jamaica..go figure. He and his family are overweight and riddled with heart disease, diabetes, etc.
    Here’s to hoping my kids never grow out of Tag, hide and seek, swimming, races (sprints!), running the sand dunes, catching bugs, gardening (mud pie, anyone?) and looking and wondering at the stars and moon. They love to sing and dance. I wish I cold preserve them in this moment of physical joy forever. The digital love affair has begun, though, what can we do, as parents?

  26. Great article! Really got me thinking about my habits and what I want to focus my mental powers on.

  27. This was a great article. This summer I did a study abroad trip to Costa Rica with some other students from my university. I spent three weeks with no phone service, no email or Internet, and no MP3 player.

    I found that I was able to enjoy some rather profound and thoughtful experiences (although part of that was due to being in an area with majestic mountains, volcanoes, and clear night skies). However, towards the end of the trip I began to actually miss the connected world. I was surprised at how much I missed it–it wasn’t that I checked Facebook a lot (maybe once a week) or received many emails. Yet I had a hunger for constant updates and for more information. It was disturbing not to be able to look up something the moment I was curious about it, or to enjoy music when I wanted to. Yet the value of that trip far exceeded the dismay I felt at being disconnected.

    The world of technology is not going to go away. It’s going to continue to get faster, more powerful, and more intense. Everything I’ve seen, including detailed professional research on the topic, indicates that information technology is not just improving linearly but rather accelerating.

    Given this idea, I think that what we need to do is take a step back and consider where technology is taking us. I don’t think we can go back and I don’t want to stagnate. But we can take technology in a different direction. We don’t have to encourage a fragmented consciousness, darting from update to update like a hummingbird. What we should do, instead, is find a way to use technology to enhance (rather than detracting from) our natural creativity, our ability to perceive and appreciate the profound, our meaningful connections with other human beings, our ability to solve problems, and our happiness.

    Technological acceleration is going to take us somewhere. Let’s make sure it’s the right place.

  28. I also have the problem of beeing distracted from the media way too much…
    It would be nice if the next post would be about how to overcome this addiction.

  29. Mark, thank you for another wonderful and thought-provoking post! Our family, which includes three young children, has no TV, no “smart” phones, and is limited in the use of the internet. We do have lots of family time, long conversations, books read aloud after dinner, and connections that are far more fulfilling than any tweets, texts, or commercial-break conversations! Extended family has questioned our choices, but we’re happy this way!

  30. Fantastic post, Mark. Your points on multitasking are also consistent with business literature on improving productivity. The whole point of the Getting Things Done Method and some key aspects of Four Hour Work Week tie in to eliminating non-priority junk so that you can focus on high-priority things with 100% attention. These methods get you out of the office faster, happier and with more time to spend with your family. Grok on!

  31. Brilliant. Just the push I needed for a change. Not a extreme swing to the other side, but a few steps in the simpler direction. I think I might switch back to a land line, which makes gettingnin touch harder for others than for me, a difficult choice, but possibly a worthy sacrifice.

  32. I know I usually deny it, but our most unhealthy habit is the time we spend in front of the computer. We gave up our TV a year ago and don’t miss that a bit, but our work keeps us in front of a computer screen, we both love reading various blogs that interest us, and I keep up w/ the Red Sox online and administer a website for my league. It’s too much.

    Now, what are we going to do about it?

  33. I love, love, love the computer and internet. Being a curious person and an information junkie, I am constantly amazed that I can find out anything I want to know on the internet.

    In high school, I took a typing class back before electric typewriters were invented. For me, it was a nightmare having to correct all my misspelled words on that thing and I never was able to type very fast. Typing on a computer is pure heaven in comparison.

    I also like connecting up with friends and family on the other coast (US) via email since with the time difference, phoning is difficult. Also, when people are busy, we can communicate in our own time. I also like that I can send photos. Oh yeah, and occasionally I buy something on the internet…easy.

    I only use my cell phone rarely. Much like I would have used a pay phone. I do like having it in case of emergency.

    Mostly, the only calls I get on it are from truckers because somehow my cell phone number was mistaken for another and then spread all over the country. Every time I think I have the problem solved, it starts up again. The up side is, the truckers are very polite and friendly.

    As for TV, I just try to ask myself if what I am watching is something I really want to see or I save a show on the DVR to watch when I am doing some mindless thing. I am trying to be more conscience of how I am spending my allotted time here on earth. If I see no TV, I don’t really care. Love the DVR by the way.

    One of my pet peeves is TV’s in public places, especially waiting rooms. What is with that?

  34. This is why I make myself sit on the front porch to knit. My cellphone does not work there, and sometimes a neighbor will actually stop and talk to me. Oh, and I get a little vitamin D while I’m sitting there!

  35. Wonderful article on a topic I think most of us already know, but need to be reminded!! As a nurse I do nothing but multitask, and I absolutely feel the decrease in memory and in-ability to think things through without having to “move onto the next”. By reading some of the other comments…I feel challenged to give up facebook!

  36. I remember that as a new flight attendant only 15 years ago, people would line up at pay phones in the airport with calling cards to tell contacts that they would be late…remember all those phone banks in airports and malls? They are GONE…NOW they just email right from their seats! Some good, some bad with the digital age. One just has to know how to balance it all…sOOooo…it’s time to get off this thing! TATA!

  37. “Less TV. More Real Life.”

    No truer words have ever been written on a bathroom stall.

  38. As part of the Primal Challenge, I’m also going on a ‘media diet’. I’ll be reducing my internet + cellphone usage during the course of the Challenge, and document the changes (physical and mental).

    I may even go so far as to install one of the ‘stay on task’ applications for the month! Perhaps you could add this as ‘extra credit’ for the Challenge, Mark?

    1. I realized I should also state that we don’t own a television, so no need to remove that from my intake. We watch occasional movies on our computer, and will probably reduce that as well.

  39. The most that the media is in my life is when im at home. when im at home i spend more time on the computer and watching tv. but when im away from from the media doesnt affect me a whole lot

  40. granted, there are amusing things on tv and it can be very entertaining, tv is okay as a distraction as long as it is in moderation.

  41. I know what you mean about the 3rd day syndrome. I went on vacation for most of August and was checking my email 1-2x a day for the first couple of days. By week 2 I wasn’t even interested in turning on a computer. It felt nice to “unplug|. Of course, as soon I came home it was right back to the old habits!

  42. I never realized how much time I waste with electronics until I read this article. Real eye-opener!

  43. This summer was the ultimate ‘unplug’ for me. I was working in Alaska for 4.5 months and for 6-7 days at a time I had no phone, radio, internet, etc. I was living in a place where they just didn’t exist.

    I did use my iPod to listen to a little bit of music (mostly while washing the dinner dishes!) and several books on tape (that was awesome and actually got me thinking a LOT. I listened to Born to run and Animal, vegetable, miracle, both of which I would recommend!)

    I did have all the normal amenities (minus TV which I don’t ever have anyway) on my ‘weekend’ and I did use electronic media pretty heavily for those couple days a week but since my weekends were unpredictable as to when they would happen I didn’t get any phone calls or texts unless I initiated them and the internet was very slow so I often gave up on that too.

    I have never in my life had as much time in my own brain as I did this summer. And I discovered an amazing thing.

    After about 6 weeks (yes WEEKS!) my brain finally quieted down. At first it was busy buzzing and thinking and processing things from my ‘real’ life. And eventually it just….. stopped. It got quiet. I could actually go for several hours just thinking about the work I was doing. And not to much of that was about the work I was GOING to be doing but mostly the work I was doing RIGHT NOW.

    I found the most comfortable, amazing place to be inside myself.

    Since I’ve been headed home and immersed back into the ‘real’ world I’ve been an internet junkie. But I’ve also not had a whole lot else to do. I’m visiting friends but they have days jobs so I’m entertaining myself for several hours a day outside of my normal access to things. And it has included some walking, reading, exploring, and people watching but a lot of internet too.

    My plan when I get home is to really focus on some things I want to accomplish in my life and limit the amount of internet I fall back into using. We’ll see how that goes.

  44. I’ve never been good at standing in line or sit at the air port, doctor’s office, wherever, without something to do, be it play games on my cell phone, read the book I’ve got tucked in my purse (yes, there is one there now), or carry on a conversation with whoever I’m with. I just don’t stand or sit and wait well, never have, never will. I do get sucked into my games on my phone and the one online discussion group I’m with, but Facebook rather bores me. Twitter is exasperating. It’s virtually impossible for me to say anything in 140 characters or less! I just can’t do it.

  45. I can say without question that I have been feeling the lack of satisfaction with life in general the more time I spend in front of a computer or any other device. I have felt it for a couple years now but think I felt it on some level for at least a couple years before.

    My jobs of course require computer time and so many friends seem to want to communicate about their lives primarily through Facebook and text messages. I am tired of looking at a computer before I am even half way through the day anymore.

    We all have to find our balance and I know mine still needs work. I hope to find it soon.

    But of all the things I spend time with on the internet, I appreciate the information that comes with MDA posts, so please continue to avail yourself of that time, Mark, please. I think we ALL appreciate it!