Was it easy for you to be offline?
I’ve been asked that question several times in the past 24 hours. The suggestion in the question is that I must have experienced some major withdrawal, which, I’ll admit, is a valid assumption: I’ve lived online since the days when “online” meant a CompuServe account. I do a big percentage of my business communication via email or IM or a company intranet. I communicate with my children (who are away at school) via iSight/iChat or IM. So the assumption is I can’t walk away from all that ubiquitous connectivity.
Well, I can.
Indeed, as a friend once told me, it’s easy not to do something.
It’s easy not to keep up with what’s taking place in the world or in your industry or in your community or neighborhood. Not using a newsreader is easy. It’s almost as easy as not reading a newspaper or watching CNN or listening to NPR.
I can find lots of “offline” things to do that I find fulfilling, enlightening, rewarding and fun — in other words, boring to many of my easily-distracted-by-shiny-objects friends on the blogosphere, businessosphere, twitterosphere, blackberryosphere, etcosphere. I enjoyed every moment of boredom I could muster. Indeed, I found the boredom inspiring. One of the things I did while offline was read Walter Isaacson’s wonderful new biography of Albert Einstein. During a speech in 1933, Einstein said this: “The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” It helped that I was reading that part of the book while I was completely offline and unplugged and mellowed by boredom and listening to light-classical music in the background. I was on some boredom high — a boredom zone — and suddenly Einstein was providing me his theory on why I was giddy from pruning tomato vines.
I could probably go for months not doing stuff online. But all that boredom stimulated lots of creative thoughts that have made me really happy to be back today in (and on) my “real” world. Back online. Being not offline.