Archives for : unplug day


If the idea of Unplug Day rattles you, consider journalist David Roberts: he went off-grid for an entire year. Here’s his frank, funny, and highly inspiring recap of what he suffered, and what he gained. The whole thing’s worth reading—but here’s a sample that may have you squirming in recognition: “All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world. Every bit of conversation was a potential tweet, every sunset a potential Instagram.”

He also links to a new app, Freedom, that lets you actually block your Internet for a set period of time—a kind of will-power substitute. Not sure I’d have the guts to commit. While I’d love to detox—to sidestep the invasiveness and privacy-creep of the Internet—I’d worry about what the feds and elites and one-worlders would get up to while my back was turned. But that’s my pathology, not yours.


After my last post, which made an impassioned case for digital detoxing, I’ve had some additional thoughts. Being a contrarian by nature, and a skeptic from bitter experience, my usual inclination when confronted with any new social movement is to ask: who’s benefitting? And where are the opposing arguments? I’ve belatedly applied that to the Unplugging movement. Still working on the former …but I’ve had better luck with the latter, uncovering the first voices to point out the things the Unpluggers get wrong.

I’m still a proponent of breaking our thrall to our digital devices. But I’ve got a better understanding now of why that’s not such a cut-and-dried issue. That’s my job as a sentinel of liberty: to keep asking the hard questions—especially about my own convictions. Beliefs that aren’t challenged become ideologies…and ideologues are who we fight, not who we are.