I will be taking the next month off from the Internet (I will still be checking emails from time to time; I am not crazy; although no social media and little to no updates on this blog) in order to write a novella about a fellow who takes a month off from the Internet (and some of the other “conveniences” in his life.) The name of the novella is The Month Off (super original, I know) and I am looking forward to writing it in a quick, intensive stretch, especially after the three-year process I just finished with my last project. I am hoping this story will refresh me, like a bath.
The idea of vacations from social media or virtual life has been an intriguing one to me for some time now. I see more and more Facebook statuses about it. People taking a vacation from something that is not their job, or even their “real life” as it were. I see people at hotels and resorts on their smart phones and iPads and I realize that when they get home, their friends will have already seen their experiences and they may be in need of another vacation already, whether they know it or not.
Since a lot of my own friends (and “Internet friends”) are also writers, this is not a new idea to me. The notion of the Writer’s or Artist’s Retreat is an old one. Some place where you can go and there are no distractions, no one to deal with, no new problems, only the writing to work on. I have always thought this idea was a little silly (although I would jump at the chance to attend one if it was paid for.) Maybe it is because I already lead a pretty simple day-to-day life, I think (no kids, mortgage, etc.) and it is hard for me to imagine why someone would pay to attend a retreat when they could just go on a vacation (I love staying in hotels) but I am realizing that the more time we spend interacting online, the more we will be needing similar retreats to concentrate and get back in touch with ourselves. I see the “Internet vacation” as eventually becoming as common or more common than the traditional vacation. For one thing, it is cheaper.
But the downside is that it takes willpower in a way that going to the islands doesn’t. Are we rewarding ourselves or punishing ourselves by removing the Internet from our lives? If we have an addictive-type impulse to log on, does that mean that we really want to be online all the time? Is a vacation from Facebook actually more like rehab? Is it a way to develop more responsible habits or “detox” from the computer? Also, what will we miss? Information that our real life friends will assume we have via social networks? What if someone dies and you don’t find out? What about all the events and milestones you will not learn about? Now that everybody is online, you are far less likely to get notice of a new baby or something in the mail or via a phone call. The people you know expect you to be online because they are. If you are not, are you being a good friend to those people? If you rarely see them in real-life anymore and now you have logged off too, are you being a friend at all?
And what kind of wonderful or potentially dangerous real-life situations might we get in that we wouldn’t have had we been at our desk or on our couch, tuned into a virtual landscape? Is it safe to be disconnected? Is it sane not to be?
If you need to get in touch with me in the next month, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org