Story Lab: Unplugged
Eight reporters attempt to quit the Internets
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, phones, 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 | Comments
Michael S. Rosenwald: I had become a gadget
After 15 years of clicking around the Internet, my surfing had become more predictable, with fewer surprises. I had programmed serendipity out of my life.
Theresa Vargas: My hands felt idle
My low came that first day, riding home on the Metro. It is normally four short stops, enough time to write a few e-mails, check headlines on my BlackBerrys and maybe text the husband.
Paul Schwartzman: I feel no need to share that I just ate a hamburger
I spent part of the unplugged week rereading letters from my parents, old friends and old girlfriends, some of the missives dating back to sleep-away camp in the 1970s. Just to look at the handwriting was a revelation.
Christian Davenport: This is stupid
Going a week without the Internet is stupid. I won't glean any wisdom about being unplugged or more fully appreciating the present. You don't have to go without to value what you have.
J. Freedom duLac: Internet...I can't quit you.
The flood is hardly overwhelming -- no information-overload rant here -- but it's not exactly necessary, either.
Brigid Schulte: The Internet feeds my worst instincts
I cheated. Just about every day. Some of it was legitimate -- I was writing a story about Internet rumors, after all.
Annys Shin: I secretly wondered whether unplugging might be a way to regain some marriage mojo
If aliens dropped into my living room on a weekday evening, they would think marriage is a strange institution. My husband, Dan, and I spend most nights with computers in our laps, making little eye contact and trading fewer words.
Ian Shapira: I didn't want to go down as the first to cave
On the first morning, I woke up and immediately felt my brain neurons sending orders to my hands: Grab the BlackBerry. Check e-mail.