Unplugged: When 8 reporters ditch digital gadgets, a sense of discovery does the talking

Friday, May 28, 2010

The idea of learning what's really important by denying yourself the things you love is as old as religion, as elemental as praying or fasting. So when eight Post reporters got to talking about their attachment -- no, addiction -- to their BlackBerrys, mobiles, Twitter and Facebook, it was only natural that someone said, okay, let's go without, if only for a week. No Web, period. If you need to talk to someone, do it in person or by phone.

Everyone got excited: What would our friends and loved ones think if we didn't respond to their texts and e-mails? Would we be able to do our work? Could we make it five whole days?

The experiment began on a Monday morning, but for three days prior, as their boss, I was peppered with messages asking, "Are we really doing this?" Which became "Do we have to do this?" Which, in the final hours before we started, morphed into "I think I need an exception because . . . "

So what did happen? Most found ways to sneak out of the experiment early. A couple had epiphanies and claim they will henceforth conduct more of their social contacts in the flesh. A couple reverted instantly to old ways. But during those few days, people got up out of their cubicles and wandered over to chat. They went out to lunch together. They had conversations. It was old school, it was sweet, it was a moment. Then, like a fast, it was over.

-- Marc Fisher


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