A few weeks ago I went off for a weekend and totally disconnected from social networks and the Internet for four days. Normally when I go off to the mountains or the coast I bring along my laptop, or at the least my Blackberry is never far from my hip. This time I decided to unplug from the Matrix of the web and spend some time reading actual printed books, and writing with a pen and paper while enjoying nature and doing some very serious relaxing. It was interesting because for the first 24 hours I kind of had a feeling of withdrawal symptoms and experienced cravings to read tweets, posts, blogs and updates. I reflected on exactly what I was missing and it was more being able to see what everyone was saying than trying to say something myself. Then I went through a phase for a few hours where I had the desire to publish my thoughts... I found myself thinking, "Oh, this would be a good tweet."
After the second day I started to actually forget about Twitter, Facebook and even my email! By that evening I was having a grand time and even though I occasionally imagined what might be happening in cyberspace, I was no longer obsessing about it. The rest of my trip was amazing. I'm sure I would have enjoyed myself with my Blackberry and staying on top of my inbox with an occasional tweet, but it was refreshing to let it all go and just live in the moment. My mind seemed scraped clean and I think it was helpful to retreat from the writhing stream of data flowing through my various networks and clear my head for a bit.
When I got back it took me quite some time to get back into the swing and deal with the ebb and flow of the firehose of data that I had become accustomed to sipping from. I had literally thousands of emails backed up in my inbox and lots of tweet streams to review (my lists were very helpful to find some jewels I had missed). I had to resist the temptation to retweet everything I had been missing while I was gone :-) I also took some time to type up all the notes I had written over the long weekend and try to organize my thinking. Now I seemed to have returned to normal, whatever that is if I ever was. I've been making some new connections and doing more writing and have some big plans that will unfold as the year moves on.
I highly recommend that everyone take an opportunity to spend a little time unplugged ~ when you return you just might be a little sharper.